Pomp and fanfare at Parly opening
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
The official opening of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament by President Mugabe yesterday had its fair share of lighter moments. Business almost came to a halt as crowds jostled to catch a glimpse of President Mugabe’s procession as it snaked its way from State House into Josiah Tongogara Avenue, Sam Nujoma Street and finally Kwame Nkrumah Avenue where there is the entrance to Parliament.
The event, attended by captains of industry, diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and hundreds of people Pomp and fanfare at Parly opening from all walks of life who followed proceedings from an imposing monitor installed at Parliament’s courtyard and adjacent open space in Africa Unity Square, was a spectacular one.
Proceedings started in the morning at State House, where the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, had a photo-shoot with First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, son-in-law, Mr Simba Chikore and his wife Bona.
This was followed by the inspection of Guard of Honour of Police Escort Mounted Unit constituted by 32 horses before President Mugabe and his procession headed for Parliament in a vintage Rolls Royce.
Outside Parliament building, he inspected a Guard of Honour mounted by Zimbabwe National Army Presidential Guard. Earlier on the national anthem was played simultaneously with a fly past by Airforce of Zimbabwe with the ZNA firing a 21 gun salute whose booming sound reverberated along Africa Unity Square and echoed among buildings.
In the Chamber, a procession of Supreme Court and High Court judges led by chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, entered followed by Government Ministers and legislators led by Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda.
President Mugabe’s entourage was the last to walk into the Chamber with the Head of State and Government lightening up by gently clapping his hands in a traditional way in greeting MPs from both the political divide with MDC-T MPs obliging by returning the same while others nodded.
There was a lighter moment when Mkoba MP Mr Amos Chibaya (MDC-T) shouted a cautionary remark to President Mugabe to be diligent so as to avoid reading the wrong speech as what happened last year during a State of the Nation Address, which was eventually withdrawn and replaced by the correct one.
This drew laughter in the Chamber including President Mugabe, who was perusing his speech in preparation for the reading. After the President’s departure from the Chamber, Speaker of the National Assembly, Adv Mudenda officially notified the House of the referral back to the legislative Assembly of the Special Economic Zones Bill.
Adv Mudenda said President Mugabe expressed reservations on the Bill in that it sought to suspend the Labour Act, a development that was noted to be unconstitutional.
Responding to a complaint of death threats raised by Kuwadzana MP Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T), Adv Mudenda said he would refer the issue to Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee so that a Privileges and Immunities committee would be constituted.
Mr Chamisa said he and other MDC-T MPs had received death threats on their mobile phones warning them to behave during the delivery of the speech by President Mugabe.
Earlier on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also Leader of Government Business had said issues raised by Mr Chamisa were serious but rebuked him for his disorderly conduct after he continued arguing with Adv Mudenda when the presiding officer had announced that business had been suspended pending the entry of President Mugabe into the Chamber to address the House.
“The matter raised by Hon Chamisa is a matter of great concern to all of us as Members of Parliament whoever is responsible for such messages threatening the life of MPs and any citizen cannot be taken lightly,” said VP Mnangagwa. Goromonzi West MP Cde Beata Nyamupinga (Zanu-PF) then rose to move a motion in reply to the President’s speech.