How the MDC took the top job in Parliament
To the surprise and delight of the Opposition, an MDC MP was yesterday elected Speaker of the Zimbabwe Parliament. Party chairman Lovemore Moyo was carried shoulder-high by cheering fellow members after he won with 110 votes to 98. He thus becomes the first Opposition speaker since the country gained independence in 1980.
Observers believe that the Moyo election was the result of a crafty but ultimately disastrous Zanu-PF plan. Mugabe's party had declined to field a candidate as Speaker, but instead backed a member of the tiny MDC splinter faction. But Paul Themba Nyathi came up 12 votes short - a result indicating that, in the secret ballot, at least one Zanu-PF MP voted for Moyo.
MDC members also loudly celebrated a second victory when, as the largest party in Parliament, they were able to occupy the government benches. Laughing MPs shouted at Zanu-PF members: "You sit on that side. You are the opposition now."
But police harassment of the MDC continues. When MDC MPs arrived for the swearing-in ceremony, two of their number were arrested. One was released almost immediately, but the other is still detained.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai continues to oppose the recall of Parliament, saying it will tend to jeopardise the power sharing talks, which are currently stalled. However, President Mugabe is still expected to officially open Parliament today, Tuesday.