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The search is now on for a new Clerk of Parliament following the retirement end of November last year of Austin Zvoma.

Zvoma was retired upon reaching 65 years — the retirement age for officers of Parliament.

He joined the legislative assembly in 1979 as a committee clerk and worked in the august House for a total of 35 years, 26 of which he served as Parliament Clerk.

Kennedy Chokuda, who was Zvoma’s deputy, is presently the acting clerk.

According to the Constitution, it is incumbent upon the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to appoint a clerk with the endorsement of the National Assembly.

Section 154 (1) and (2) reads, “The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, with the approval of the National Assembly, must appoint an officer to be known as the Clerk of Parliament to be responsible, subject to Standing Orders and to the control and supervision of the Speaker, for the day-to-day administration of Parliament. The Clerk of Parliament is appointed for a six-year-term and may be re-appointed for one further such term.”

Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of Parliament, told the Financial Gazette this week that the hunt for Zvoma’s replacement was now on although he could not be drawn into saying when the new clerk would be appointed.

“The process to find a new clerk has started,” said Mudenda.

During his tenure, Zvoma ruffled some feathers.

In 2009, he found himself at loggerheads with the Parliamentary Select Committee during the constitution-making process.

In 2011, the then Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo accused Zvoma of “carrying out duties that are constitutionally and otherwise beyond the scope of the Clerk of Parliament’s Office”.

Among other things, Moyo accused Zvoma of authenticating Parliamentary bills, which he said was supposed to be a preserve of the presiding officers of Parliament (these are the Speaker, President of the Senate and their deputies).

Also in 2011, Zvoma found himself in the eye of the storm after the then Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) secretary general Tendai Biti accused him of “flouting Parliament’s Standing Orders and the Constitution by exercising powers that you do not have when you did not allow the House to sit”.

Biti also accused Zvoma of “being a willing appendage of ZANU-PF”.

At some point, due to continued failure to see eye to eye, the MDC-T parliamentary caucus made a resolution to the effect that they wanted the clerk fired.

But somehow Zvoma wriggled out of all that until his retirement late last year.

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Source : Financial Gazette