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Mixed Reactions Over MDC-T's Boycott of Parliament Event

Zanu-PF supporters outside parliament during the official opening ceremony Tuesday
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Tuesday boycotted President Robert Mugabe’s official opening of parliament drawing mixed reactions across the political divide.

The official opening of parliament has always attracted some drama outside the august house. Singing Zanu PF supporters denouncing the opposition and clad in their party regalia are a common feature during such occasions at the Africa Unity Square – a park adjacent to the parliament building and the opening of the legislature’s eighth session was no exception.

Some Harare residents such as Winnet Murove of Mbare high density suburb said it is important for the MDC to attend national functions like the opening of parliament. Murove said the electorate that chose MDC-T members to represent them in parliament expects full representation from their legislators.

Mbare-based Zanu PF activist, Cleopatra Muwanzi, said there is no reason for the MDC-T to attend such functions as the party would be embarrassing itself in front of the people after its heavy loss to Zanu PF. But the opposition party says the July 31 polls were rigged in President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s favor.

Portia Gwanzura is among the hordes of Zanu PF supporters that thronged the Africa Unity Square to listen to Mr. Mugabe’s speech. She said the absence of MDC-T legislators in the House of Assembly on Tuesday should be supported because their presence could have resulted in inter-party violence.

However, legislators of the MDC formation of former Industry Minister Welshman Ncube attended the ceremony. The party’s general secretary, Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga, said it is the MDC-T’s democratic right to choose to attend state functions or not.

But Jonathan Moyo, a Zanu PF Politburo member and the country’s new information minister, said the MDCT is shooting itself in the foot.

However, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora maintains that his party does not recognize Mr. Mugabe re-election and will not be party to any event that he will be officiating as president.

The MDC-T usually complains that state functions are relegated to Zanu PF gatherings by the revolutionary party’s members where the MDC-T faithfuls are a target of ridicule and violence with no corrective measures being taken.

As if to confirm the opposition’s claims, the better part of Tuesday’s proceedings outside parliament building were characterized by songs demeaning the MDC-T.

Independent political journalist, Richard Chidza, said boycotting Mr. Mugabe was the only last available option for the MDC-T to demonstrate its claims of the president’s illegitimacy in the wake of his re-election on July 31 being endorsed by the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

Mr. Tsvangirai and his party are now demanding fresh polls.

Following its landslide victory in the recent national elections, Zanu PF can now easily make amendments to the country’s laws because it has a two thirds parliamentary majority.