MDC MPs refuse to debate Mnangagwa’s speech

HARARE – Opposition MDC legislators yesterday refused to debate the motion on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the next five years, saying he was an illegitimate head of State.

At State opening of Parliament two weeks ago, Mnangagwa delivered the speech outlining the government’s legislative programme for this parliamentary session.

The debate about Mnangagwa’s speech was supposed to give the National Assembly and Senate an opportunity to put on record its views on the government’s plans.

MDC MPs flatly refused to debate the proposals in Mnangagwa’s speech and the proposed legislation.

Zanu PF legislators in both the National Assembly and Senate forged ahead with debate on the presidential speech motion, moved by proportional representation MP for Zanu PF Goodluck Kwaramba but their MDC counterparts flatly refused to take part.

National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda asked if there was anyone who wanted to debate Mnangagwa’s’ address but the opposition backbenchers refused.

The debate is supposed to continue over several days, looking at different subject areas.

As the debate was going on, opposition legislators could be seen either concentrating on their phones or chatting to each other only to heckle Zanu PF MPs each time they thanked Mnangagwa for a “free and fair election” on July 30.

The same situation prevailed in the Senate where only Zanu PF members debated the speech as opposition members looked on.

Speaking to the Daily News outside Parliament, MDC vice president Morgen Komichi told the Daily News: “Mnangagwa is not the legitimate president of this country because he did not win elections so we don’t want to legitimise him by debating his speech.

“If we debate his speech, we are admitting that he won elections in a free and fair environment.” Komichi said “it is not the first time we robbed of our victor”.

“The elections in this country remain disputed and we are going to show our disgruntlement against Mnangagwa.

“We know platforms where to fight like Parliament and others. We are going to fight this struggle until everyone understands our grievances. We are happy that the international world is listening.

“Let Zanu PF legislators debate their president’s speech and we are going to raise our concern like the electoral reforms issues at the right time.”

When Mnangagwa presented his Sona to Parliament a fortnight ago, the MDC legislators launched a campaign of parliamentary guerrilla tactics to cause maximum disruption to his address.

The State opening of the ninth Parliament descended into pandemonium after MDC MPs walked out en masse as part of a protest over claims the president was not legitimately elected on July 30.

But the MDC was accused by the ruling party of being “locked in a toxic trajectory”.

The MDC caucus flatly refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the country’s elected leader, walking out on him as he took his seat in the Speaker’s chair just before presenting his Sona in Parliament.

The incident occurred a week after opposition legislators had also heckled and jeered Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba as the duo presided over the swearing-in of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, his deputy Tsitsi Gezi, Senate President Mable Chinomona and her deputy Mike Nyambuya.

The Chamisa-led MDC continues to refuse to accept Mnangagwa’s July 30 poll victory arguing that the plebiscite was rigged by Zec.

The moment Mnangagwa commenced his address, the legislators led by Mutare Central MP Prosper Mutseyami, who is the party’s chief whip in the National Assembly, stood up in unison and quietly walked out.

What precipitated the walkout was Mnangagwa’s reference to the elections which he described as “free fair and credible”, much to the chagrin of the MDC MPs who immediately left, leaving him to address only the ruling party legislators.

MDC MPs walked out of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inaugural Sona last month.