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MDC-T Lawmakers to Boycott Official Opening of Parliament

Parliament of Zimbabwe
The Morgan Tsvangirai Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation says its members of parliament will boycott the official opening of parliament Tuesday, protesting election results from the July 31st poll they say was rigged to give Zanu-PF a landslide victory.

President Robert Mugabe traditionally presides over the opening of parliament and is expected to do so again next week. The MDC lawmakers will, however, attend Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony, a chore that is reserved for the clerk of parliament.

Zanu-PF sources told VOA Studio 7 the party’s Politburo has nominated Jacob Mudenda as the Speaker of Parliament and will retain Joram Gumbo as chief whip and Edna Madzongwe as Senate president.

Mr. Tsvangirai, backed by his party’s national council, had initially considered asking all elected MDC-T lawmakers, senators and councillors not to take up their positions in protest of the disputed poll results.

The party’s exiled treasurer, Roy Bennet, has threated to resign if some elected colleagues accept government positions if offered by Mr. Mugabe.

The plan to boycott parliament and councils was aborted as fears grew that the party could be split again as had happened in 2005. This is not the first time the country’s parliament has opened amid controversy.

In 2000 MDC parliamentarians again boycotted a traditional state reception hosted by Mr. Mugabe for MPs in protest of what it alleged was state-sponsored violence targeting its supporters.

In 2008, MDC parliamentarians jeered and booed Mr. Mugabe as he opened parliament also over allegations of electoral violence.

MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the boycott is meant to send a message to Mr. Mugabe.

But spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube said their lawmakers will attend the official opening of parliament.

Zanu-PF chief whip-elect Joram Gumbo concurred with Dube saying the politics of boycotts does not work in Zimbabwe.