Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS
Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — Zimbabwean opposition legislators walked out of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s state of the nation address to parliament on Tuesday, signalling their lingering bitterness after losing a disputed July 30 presidential and parliamentary election.

MPs from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that is led by Nelson Chamisa heckled Mnangagwa when he started reading his speech, before filing out.

Chamisa, who is not a member of parliament and lost a court challenge to Mnangagwa’s victory in August, maintains he was cheated of victory by the electoral board and says the 76-year-old president lacks legitimacy.

After leaving parliament, the MDC legislators broke into song denouncing the governing Zanu-PF party.

“As the MDC we cannot sit there and be addressed by a person who does not even respect the rule of law,” said MDC national chair Tabitha Khumalo.

Zanu-PF’s chief whip in parliament, Pupurai Togarepi, described the legislators’ conduct as unfortunate. “We hope that over time they will come to their senses, it’s not about grandstanding but building the country together.”

Mnangagwa, who has called for unity among political parties to help rebuild the shattered economy, said the elections were now in the past.

“The election period is decisively behind us. It is now time for us as members of parliament and political leaders to exert our efforts towards delivering promises we made to the electorate,” Mnangagwa said.

The president promised to bring a series of bills to parliament, including ones to give more power to Zimbabwe’s 10 regions, revamping the process of registering companies and creating a one-stop investment agency.

Mining bill

A mining amendment bill, which had already been passed by parliament in June, and which removed clauses requiring foreign mines to list their shares on the local stock market, would be brought back to the assembly to fix “inadequacies” and provide for online registration of mining rights and titles.

Mnangagwa, who came to power in November 2017 after Robert Mugabe was removed in a coup, faces the huge task of ending Zimbabwe’s international pariah status and fixing an economy afflicted by high unemployment and foreign currency shortages.

He told legislators that his government had negotiated $500m in foreign credit facilities, some of which would be disbursed to companies this week.

However, Mnangagwa said, the country would not immediately bring back its own currency, which was dumped in 2009 after it was made worthless by hyperinflation.