MDC and Zanu-PF legislators sworn in together

2013-09-03 16:41

Zimbabwe’s newly elected legislators were sworn in on Tuesday for five-year terms following disputed elections won by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

Despite boycott threats by their leader Morgan Tsvangirai, legislators for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) joined Zanu-PF legislators to take their oaths.

In groups of 10, they stood before Parliament clerk Austin Zvoma to pledge allegiance to Zimbabwe and to observe the country’s laws.

There are 356 legislators in all, with 270 of them being members of the lower house of Parliament and the rest senators and nonconstituency legislators.

Jacob Mudenda, the former human rights commission chief who was elected unopposed, was sworn in as speaker of Parliament after MPs chose him for the job.

Mudenda served during the 1980s as the provincial governor for Matabeleland North during Gukurahundi, a state-ordered crackdown on dissidents that claimed 20 000 lives.

His fellow Zanu-PF party official Mabel Chinomona was elected his deputy.

Parliament is scheduled to start sitting on September 17.

The swearing-in of legislators is expected to pave the way for the appointment of a new Cabinet by Mugabe.

The law states that ministers are appointed from among legislators, but it allows for up to five to be picked from outside Parliament for their professional skills or competence.

Mugabe has not indicated when he will unveil his Cabinet. The delay has fuelled speculation he may be considering appointing a number of opposition politicians. But observers say that such a development is highly unlikely.

The July 31 elections, which Tsvangirai has dismissed as rigged, ended an uncomfortable power-sharing government formed in 2009 by him and veteran leader Mugabe.

The vote handed the 89-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled the country for over three decades, another five years in power.

Tsvangirai rejected the outcome of the vote, went to court and later dropped the court challenge, saying he doubted he would get a fair hearing.

He complained that, among a number of irregularities, tens of thousands of voters were turned away from urban polling stations that are considered opposition strongholds.

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