Mnangagwa delivers first Sona‚ MDC Alliance legislators walk out

President Emmeerson Mnangagwa

HARARE – Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered his first State of the Nation address during the opening of the ninth session of parliament in Harare on Tuesday.

Legislators from the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC Alliance)‚ however walked out as soon as Mnangagwa began delivery of his state of the nation address.

The MDC Alliance legislators walked out in protest over claims of a stolen election in favour of Mnangagwa after the Constitutional Court upheld his win in the July 30 election. They chanted songs outside parliament building before making a return inside the National Assembly.

The walkout by the MDC Alliance legislators follows scenes of heckling last week by chief justice Luke Malaba and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson‚ Priscilla Chigumba‚ during a session to elect the speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly.

Despite the walkout by the opposition legislators‚ Mnangagwa proceeded with his address in which he pledged that his government was alive to the economic challenges faced by ordinary Zimbabweans.

“My government will continue ongoing efforts to address the economic situation and we will continue to use the multi-currency system until fundamentals are right to bring the local currency‚” he said.

His newly appointed finance minister‚ Mthuli Ncube‚ has advocated before for the adoption of the SA rand – given the high volume of trade at over $2bn annually between the two countries. Ncube earlier on Tuesday told journalists that he was working on a “transitional stabilisation programme” which he would unveil next month.

Mnangagwa also read the riot act to ailing state enterprises and said they needed to “operate profitably and not continue to drain the fiscus.”

These parastatals notably include national airline Air Zimbabwe‚ the National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Grain Marketing Board among others.

During the current five-year tenure of parliament‚ several bills are set to be brought before it. The bills include amendments set to be made to the companies act‚ citizenship act and the broadcasting act‚ child justice bill and marriage act.

Turning to the cholera outbreak that has claimed the lives of 30 people and resulted in about 4‚000 being hospitalised‚ Mnangagwa said his administration was “concerned” with the outbreaks of the disease.

The government yesterday officially launched an appeal for $57m to fight the outbreak.

A state of emergency has been declared and several public gatherings have been cancelled as authorities attempt to curb the spread of the disease.

The local authority‚ the Harare City Council‚ which is controlled by the MDC‚ has appealed for $6m to overhaul its water reticulation systems in the townships of Glen View and Budiriro – the epicenters of the cholera outbreak.