Zimbabwean opposition lawmakers walked out of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s state of the nation address to parliament on Tuesday, signaling their lingering bitterness after losing a disputed July 30 presidential and parliamentary election.
Members of Parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by 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, the MDC lawmakers broke into song denouncing the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“As the MDC we cannot sit there and be addressed by a person who does not even respect the rule of law,” MDC national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo told Reuters.
ZANU-PF’s chief whip in parliament Pupurai Togarepi described the lawmakers’ conduct as unfortunate, adding: “We hope that over time they will come to their senses, it’s not about grandstanding but building the country together.”
Mnangagwa, who has previously called for unity among political parties to help rebuild the shattered economy, said the elections were now in the past.