Zimbabwean opposition lawmakers walked out of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s state of the nation address to parliament on Tuesday, signalling their lingering bitterness after losing a disputed July 30 presidential and parliamentary election.
Members of Parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is led by unsuccessful presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa, heckled Mnangagwa when he started reading his speech before filing out.
Chamisa – who is not a member of parliament and lost a court challenge to Mnangagwa’s win last month – maintains that he was cheated of victory by the electoral board and says the 76-year-old president lacks legitimacy.
After leaving parliament, MDC lawmakers broke into song denouncing the ruling ZANU-PF party.
MDC national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo told Reuters her party could not be addressed by someone who did not respect the rule of law.
Mnangagwa, who came to power in November after Robert Mugabe was removed in a coup, faces the huge task of ending Zimbabwe’s international pariah status and fixing an economy afflicted by high unemployment and foreign currency shortages.
He told lawmakers that his government had negotiated $500 million in foreign credit facilities, some of which would be disbursed to companies this week.
Mnangagwa, however, said the country would not immediately re-introduce its own currency, which was dumped in 2009 after it was made worthless by hyperinflation of 500 billion percent.