MDC-T legislators boycott Mugabe’s opening speech

MDC-T legislators boycotted the official opening of the 8th Parliament Tuesday in what the party says is a protest against President Robert Mugabe’s illegitimacy.

The party had indicated that they would stay away from the official opening ceremony presided over by Mugabe, whom they accuse of stealing the July 31st poll outcome.

However the boycott does not extend to other parliamentary activities to enable its members to carry out their mandate as elected MPs for their constituencies.

Speaking on Monday, MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said attending Tuesday’s opening event would be equivalent to legitimising Mugabe, before adding: “We cannot bless fraud as that is exactly how Mugabe became president.”

SW Radio Africa’s Harare based correspondent Simon Muchemwa, who attended the opening session, confirmed the absence of MDC-T MPs from the parliament building.

“The opening session was predominantly ZANU PF, with the exception of a few individuals from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC and an independent.

“None of the MDC-T legislators attended following the party’s resolution not to endorse Mugabe’s sham election victory,” Muchemwa said.

According to Muchemwa, Mugabe’s opening speech was peppered with his usual rhetoric, including a renewed drive towards indigenisation and a willingness to re-engage with the West, if sanctions are removed.

Mugabe was declared winner following the disputed July 31st poll which was marred by allegations that millions of MDC supporters were prevented from voting through an intricate scheme of vote rigging and electoral roll manipulation.

Despite the glaring irregularities, ZANU PF says it ‘won’ the election fairly, and it will be business as usual in government and parliament “whether or not they (MDC-T) attend,” the spokesman Rugare Gumbo said on Monday.

Given its two-thirds majority of 197 seats out of a possible 270, ZANU PF can afford to do that and has already said it does not need the opposition to govern.

Stung by the public MDC-T rejection, Mugabe who got 61% of the presidential vote, last Tuesday excluded members of the opposition from his Cabinet.

Members of the Ncube-led MDC, which has two seats courtesy of the proportional representation system, attended the opening session.

The party’s spokesman Nhlanhla Dube said their members had taken an oath to serve under the current establishment and they did not see the point in boycotting.

“Our members took an oath to serve the people under the reality of the existing government, whether we agree with it, or not, is something else.

“For us, once you agree to be sworn in under a certain dispensation it becomes important to participate in all those spaces where we have committed ourselves.”

Dube also refuted recent media reports that suggested that a certain section of the party’s membership was unhappy with the nomination of Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga to represent Matebeleland South, under the women’s quota system.

He said as far as the party’s grievance procedure was concerned, no-one had lodged any concerns about Misihairabwi’s nomination.

“So far we have not received any official complaints or concerns and we would encourage members to approach relevant structures within the party with any issues because that is what democracy is all about,” Dube added. – SW Radio Africa News

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