President Emmerson Mnangagwa will Tuesday come face to face with opposition MDC hostility when he goes to parliament to preside over the official opening of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.
The country’s newly elected leader will also take the time to present his first State of the Nation Address before a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate where he will outline the country’s legislative agenda under his new administration.
However, what is likely to dominate the news is what would likely be a hostile reception by opposition legislators who last week heckled and booed Chief Justice Luke Malaba, calling him a “thief” after the top judge entered the House on his judicial robes to swear in returning Speaker Jacob Mudenda and other presiding officers.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, who was also in attendance, was subjected to the same humiliation until she was whisked out of Parliament by deputy Clerk of Parliament, Hellen Dingani.
MDC Alliance MPs burst into song denigrating the country’s top jurist for dismissing a poll petition which was placed by their leader Nelson Chamisa to challenge his controversial defeat to Mnangagwa in the July 30 elections.
Mudenda was later forced to issue a formal apology to Malaba, insisting parliament was there to protect the constitution which accords respect to other arms of the state.
He added, “It is in this context, therefore, that I convey my sincere apologies to the Chief Justice and Justice Chigumba for the shameless attacks on their character and person in the course of their constitutional duties.
“It is my expectation that such unbecoming behaviour will not be repeated in the House whose lofty stature must be guarded jealously at all times.”
Chamisa is adamant Mnangagwa robbed him of electoral victory through manipulation of poll systems and figures in the just ended polls.
What has followed are bitter relations between the rivals with Chamisa using every platform to scold his opponent for alleged poll thievery.
In August 2015, then President Robert Mugabe’s State of the nation address was drowned in heckles by MDC MPs who sang the common derogatory song, Zanu yaora (Zanu PF is rotten).
Some of the MPs later received death messages sent through their mobile phones by suspected state agents.
Mnangagwa would likely face similar reaction from opposition’s legislators and hordes of party supporters who are expected to monitor the proceedings from the adjacent Africa Unity Square.
If opposition MPs heckle Mnangagwa, it would be the first time the new state leader gets the reception from an opposition which did not hesitate to embrace his rule when he ousted his boss in a popular military coup November last year.
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