If there was any shred of doubt, President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday did not hide what could have been said in hushed tones in the corridors of power and MDC-T interim leader Thokozani Khupe is now the official opposition leader in the National Assembly.
This is despite Khupe’s controversial entry into the August House after garnering only 45 000 votes during the July 30 2018 Presidential election!
While delivering the State of the Nation Address in Harare, Mnangagwa saluted Khupe after his wife Auxilia, Deputy Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Mabel Chinomona.
She effectively replaces MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa who got 2.3 million votes in the 2018 elections after the Supreme Court ushered her as the interim leader of the MDC-T.
The Supreme Court in March this year, ruled that under MDC-T rules, Chamisa assumed the opposition party leadership illegally in 2018 pronouncing Khupe as the interim president pending an extraordinary congress, in line with the party’s constitution.
The court also ordered the party to revert to its 2014 congress structures and on assuming control of the MDC-T, Khupe and her supporters recalled several MPs who won their seats on the MDC-A ticket, but were originally nominated by the MDC-T to contest the elections.
Furthermore, the High Court also found that the MDC-A was not a legal entity, but just an electoral pact by a group of political parties, which retained their previous existence.
However, Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko dismissed the development and said: “We don’t think much about what Mnangagwa says to Khupe. Moreso if it is parliaments and democracy, they are scared of both.”
Khupe stormed into parliament after recalling 31 MDC Alliance MPs and senators aligned to Chamisa and reports suggest that she is poised to receive perks as leader of the opposition in the country, similar to the United Kingdom format.
In the UK the leader of opposition is recognized and is paid by the government for leading opposition arguments in parliament.
Meanwhile, in his address, Mnangagwa said an Unemployment Benefit Fund which will cover workers in case of retrenchment or natural disasters will be established.
“Government has resolved to roll out the Presidential Horticulture Scheme. The accelerated resuscitation and development of irrigation schemes as well as construction of dams in all our provinces will help climate proof our agriculture against the adverse effects of climate,” said Mnangagwa.
The signing of the Global Compensation Agreement, the 77 year-old leader said, reaffirmed the irreversibility of the Land Reform Program.
“It further symbolised government’s commitment to the entrenchment of constitutionalism, the rule of law and respect of property rights.”
Government will soon launch the First Year National Development Strategy, the successor to the Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP).
“In spite of the global and local impact of the Covid-19 pandemic our exports increased by US$1.96 billion during the first quarter of 2020, from US$1.86 billion in 2019 for the comparative period. Imports declines by 5.9% from US$1.96 billion to US$1.84 billion,” Mnangagwa said.