The First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe opened yesterday with scores of people expressing optimism that legislators will deliver on promises and come up with laws that are beneficial to the majority of the people. Outside Parliament, people dressed in colourful Zanu-PF regalia waving, dancing and cheering President Mugabe triumphantly endorsed the new Zanu PF–dominated Parliament.
“We are very happy with the official opening of the Parliament. We hope that MPs will be responsive to the needs of the people,” said Mr Edwin Mukondorongwe of Highfield.
“They must listen to the needs of the people in much the same way a recent Government directive to slash council bills tugged at the heartstrings of the people,”
Others talked about the “historic victory” for Zanu-PF which put the party in the frontline to save the country from foreign domination and black disempowerment.
“We as freedom fighters are happy because the liberation struggle that we fought for has come back to its original people,” said Cde Rangarirai Muzvanya. “We hope that MPs will play their part to support the Government and adopt laws that strengthen our control over our resources.”
Some people gave President Mugabe “two cheers” for spearheading the indigenisation and economic empowerment policies.
“Indigenisation has enabled a lot of people to venture into their own businesses, be it small or big helping to reduce unemployment,” said Mr Elijah Mutetwa of Mufakose.
“We hope Parliament will come with new and better laws that safeguard and promote the interests of vendors, flea-market traders and other small business.
“Whatever MPs do should rhyme with the Team Zanu-PF 2013 slogan – Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Employ.”
Others said that the Eighth Parliament should step up efforts to fight corruption and attend to issues such as health and accessibility to education so that young people could be self-reliant.
“People are against corruption, are against enemies of the State. They want MPs to tackle problems facing the people head-on without hesitation,” said one resident from Mabvuku.
“We are happy that Zanu-PF won a majority but this also comes with added responsibility. Health, education, water, electricity and jobs do matter for the people. This is what I think they should help President Mugabe address.”
Tapiwa Chigwada of Norton hailed President Mugabe for spearheading efforts to promote the youth in politics.
“President Mugabe has the youth at heart and he endorsed moves to include young turks in Parliament,” he said. “This has given us hope and we hope those elected will stand up and safeguard the interest of the youth in the country.”
Some warned legislators to guard against complacency and losing touch with the grassroots saying if they did this, it could seriously harm the integrity of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
“President Mugabe and the Zanu-PF dominated Parliament are under the spotlight. Legislators should remain seized with delivery and if they don’t they will damage the reputation of the party,” said a Zanu-PF party activist from Chitungwiza.
“They should deliver and save the image of the party.”
There was disquiet over the absence of MDC–T at the official opening of the Eighth Parliament with many people slamming the move by the opposition party as ill-advised and backward.
They said the absence of opposition legislators poisoned the country’s democratic thrust and progressive politics.
“The MDC-T party has no interest for Zimbabwe and their absence shows that they are stooges of Western countries,” said Mr Munashe Chitsiga from Marondera.
“They don’t have interest in the country’s national affairs and they only serve Western interests. Failure to respect our President means failure to respect the will of Zimbabweans.”
President Mugabe’s speech was warmly received and scores of people appreciated the President’s desire for the Parliament to find solutions to some of the country’s pressing problems.
Cabinet ministers and their deputies were sworn-in by President Mugabe at State House last week.
Zanu-PF dominates both houses of Parliament with 197 legislators in the National Assembly and 37 Senators.
MDC-T has 70 National Assembly members and 21 Senators with MDC weighing in with two National Assembly Members and two Senators, all chosen through proportional representation.
There is one independent legislator in the National Assembly.