THE scenes in Parliament yesterday afternoon just before the presentation of the 2019 National Budget by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube were unbelievable. Police fighting with and pulling at opposition Members of Parliament to drag them out of the chamber like a scene from a Theatre in the Park play. Except this was real and pictures were being beamed to a worldwide audience.
The crime? The MPs had booed when President Emmerson Mnangagwa entered the chamber.
When the dust had settled and the pesky MPs had been shut outside, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda thundered: Emmerson Mnagwagwa is the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and no one must be allowed to hold any other opinion.
That is an extra-ordinary declaration from a man who is supposed to uphold the tenets of democracy in an institution which is supposed to be a beacon of the highest levels of democracy in the country and whose composition is as a result of supposedly sacred democratic principles.
Female MPs were dragged and pulled at and their undergarments were exposed. During all this drama, Mnangagwa sat stony-faced like an angry King Tut.
He could have stopped this nonsense, but chose not to, watching as his lackeys harassed representatives of the people for not doing obeisance to him.
So we ask: Is Mnangagwa morphing into another dictator? Judging by the scenes in Parliament yesterday the answer is a resounding yes.
It is unfortunate that Mnangagwa seems to think he should be impervious to criticism. Zimbabwe is supposed to be a democratic country unless he means to say he is omniscient and therefore can do no wrong, which is preposterous to say the least.
After 37 years of Robert Mugabe’s disastrous heavy-handed reign which was ended by the very guns that had propped up his seemingly iron grip on power, one would have thought that Mnangagwa ought to know better than to borrow the old emperor’s clothes and then some.
Perhaps it is time to remind Mnangagwa that the number of votes he garnered at the July polls are almost equal to MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and that the authority conferred to him as President does not extend to harassing the legislature.
Is it any wonder that the United States, while renewing the sanctions under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in August, noted that Zimbabwe had no ‘culture of democracy.”
This is where the need for skilled and wise diplomacy comes in. Of course, diplomacy does not provide salvation, but it does provide hope. So what happened in Parliament yesterday was untoward, uncalled for and a public relations disaster to say the least.
While Zanu PF continues to insist that they do not need the MDC Alliance, the truth of the matter is that they do and the many doors that should have been opened for Mnangagwa to make his rule smooth-sailing will remain tightly shut.
The Speaker’s decision to call in the police was also overzealous. This is a job that should have been done by the sergeant-at-arms.
We believe it is this kind of overzealousness that can lead to regrettable consequences just like what happened during the August 1 shootings.