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MDC-T Lawmakers Boycott Debate on Mugabe Speech

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda (File Photo/Courtesy Image)
Debate on President Robert Mugabe’s parliament speech continued in the National Assembly Wednesday with MDC-T lawmakers abstaining from deliberations for the second day running.

The party says it does not recognize Mr. Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s president, accusing him of rigging the July 31 elections in which he trounced former prime minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC-T legislators boycotted Mugabe's opening of parliament, and the party has instructed them not to contribute in the ongoing Mugabe speech debate as a way of protesting the veteran leader’s legitimacy.

But Mr. Tsvangirai last week told the media his lawmakers would debate Mr. Mugabe’s speech that set the legislative agenda for the next five years.

MDC-T lawmaker for Pumula Constituency, Albert Mhlanga, told VOA that taking up Mugabe's remarks would be tantamount to recognizing his presidency.

"As a party, we aren't debating that speech," said Mhlanga. "We will attend all parliamentary activities because we were chosen by the people, however, we will not be drawn into discussing Mugabe's speech because he stole the election."

But political analyst Dewa Mavhinga described the move as a weak and poor strategy.

"The MDC is pursuing a weak political strategy. It is not a very strong way of indicating that they do not accept that Mugabe is a legitimate leader," Mavhinga said.

"If they chose that route, then the abstinence should be total, it should not be partial. They should robustly criticize Mugabe and his speech. This strategy of being silent in parliament is not pragmatic and is unlikely to yield dividends politically."