THE clear bright Harare summer morning on Tuesday provided the perfect backdrop to Zanu PF’s political renaissance after its near-disintegration following its defeat to the MDC-T in the 2008 polls.
REPORT BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Having overturned that harrowing experience of 2008 in the July 31 harmonised elections, albeit in highly controversial circumstances described as a fraud by the MDCs and most civil society organisations, Zanu PF MPs came out in full force and colourful for the swearing in ceremony of the eighth parliament in Harare on Tuesday.
They came early, fashionably dressed and driving their swanky utility vehicles and brimming with confidence that seemed to have been buried under the avalanche of years of setbacks induced by the seemingly enduring popularity of the MDC since it made its political mark in the June 2000 elections.
While the MPs revelled in an endless orgy of self-congratulations borne out of the resounding victory which gave them a two-thirds majority, their MDC counterparts appeared subdued and rather reflective. MPs from the MDC formations sneaked into the chamber and quietly left soon after being sworn in. They left, and perhaps sensibly so, even before the commencement of elections for presiding officers which would have given Zanu PF the opportunity to rub it in.
Zanu PF’s reinvention since 2008 was visibly on display in the chamber. Its 198 MPs, including two expelled new legislators Munyaradzi Kereke (Bikita West) and Jonathan Samukange (Mudzi South), were cross generational, had diversified educational backgrounds and trades, gender and economic backgrounds. With that kind of parliamentary majority, the party could even afford a show of magnanimity to prodigal sons Kereke and Samukange allowing the two rebel MPs to mingle freely and chat animatedly with senior Zanu PF figures throughout the ceremony.
The swearing-in ceremony was done in groups of 10, with members reading their oath in unison. Sworn in members were periodically reminded by Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma to leave the chamber so that other members could take their oath.
After the swearing in ceremony, Zanu PF MPs proved their loyalty to the party leadership by nominating Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairperson Jacob Mudenda unopposed to the office of speaker of the National Assembly.
This means Zanu PF can now control debates, composition and activities of portfolio committees for the next five years.
In melodramatic fashion, Zanu PF leaders, among them Didymus Mutasa, Obert Mpofu, Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa, stampeded to offer congratulatory messages to Mudenda after being elected unopposed.
Mutasa spoke of responsibilities the office comes with and the difficulties one faces when handling MPs, particularly those from the majority party.
After all he should know, having been independent Zimbabwe’s first speaker of the parliament during which he had to reign in MPs, most of who were just coming from the bush and were vicious in their personal attacks against Rhodesian Front MPs during debates.
Mpofu gave an emotional congratulatory speech to his old friend and homeboy for being elevated to the office of Speaker and reminded Mudenda not to forget his roots. He even shed tears.
Mujuru was the last speaker to offer a congratulatory message to Mudenda leaving Mnangagwa marooned with his own speech. Mnangagwa, also a former speaker, had twice stood up to speak and twice he was not recognised by Zvoma.
As the MPs mingled and chatted, it could not escape the eye of those in attendance that new political dynasties are slowly emerging in the country.
There were couples, brothers and siblings who were sworn in rekindling the 2000 elections when Sabina Mugabe and her sons Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwao breezed into the august house.
Mpofu and his wife Sikhanyisiwe and younger brother Bekithemba, Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo and wife Roselyn made it to the National Assembly.
The Madzore brothers Paul and Solomon also made it as did the Muzenda siblings Tongai and Tsitsi, among others. From Mashonaland Central, the Kasukuwere and Musanhu families also brought in a fair complement of siblings to the legislature.
Outside parliament buildings, Zanu PF supporters sang and danced as they celebrated their victorious MPs’ joyous occasion.