Why MDC-T wanted secret voting

By Daniel Chigundu

MDC-T had hoped to use secret voting to enable unsettled Zanu PF legislators to vote against Constitution Amendment No1, in what would have been a repeat of a 2011 Parliamentary drama.

In 2011 MDC-T legislator Lovemore Moyo was re-elected Speaker of Parliament after two Zanu PF legislators voted for him by way of a secret vote in the re-ordered election.

Moyo was supposed to get 103 votes inclusive of the smaller MDC support but ended up having 105 votes against Zanu PF’s 93.

MDC-T was hoping that the current fierce factional fights between Lacoste and G40 in Zanu PF would work in their favour should there be a secret vote for the amendment.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Kuwadzana East legislator Nelson Chamisa said people went to the liberation struggle to fight for the right to vote and not the right to win and therefore it is important that they are granted to vote in secret.

“What I am submitting Honourable Speaker is that let us allow the secrecy of the vote by Members of Parliament (MPs) so that we have a secret ballot.  There are Members who are intimidated from the other side.  They have been complaining to us Honourable Speaker Sir.  Voter intimidation cannot be allowed in Parliament.

“We know that they are being harassed into voting in a particular way.  Let us allow the secret ballot and I can assure you that we do not have assisted voters, no secret manipulation.  Let us have each and every member voting for themselves, and then we will be able to have the vote being done properly.

“….As individual members, we feel that let us vote without fear or favour; without intimidation and let us make arrangements for a secret ballot for this vote because it is an important Bill being a constitutional Bill.  Honourable Speaker Sir, I so request,” Chamisa said.

However, in his ruling, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, who happens to be Zanu PF, shot the request down.

In the end, Zanu PF got their way via 187 votes which were finally reduced to 182 after a recount as some members are said to have had left.

Speaking after the vote, however, MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese criticised the manner in which the polls were conducted and the discrepancies in the final result.

“The important point is that the vote had initially been given as 187 and I think that we have been vindicated that at the end of the day the final tally was 182.  Secondly, I also want to make the observation that there was no proper voting what we did was simply to count people.  I believe that in terms of the provisions of our Constitution, we did not proceed with the process of voting.

“Thirdly, Mr Speaker, we violated our own rules because our rules state that once the doors have been closed, no one can be allowed in.  We are now no longer sure as to whether those who walked in afterwards had been in the House at the beginning. I am just making those observations and I think it is important for posterity that at the end of the day when the bells are rung, no one is allowed to walk in or out,” he said.

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