OUTGOING Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu yesterday shed tears while delivering a congratulatory message to the newly-elected speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda.
This happened during the swearing-in of legislators at Parliament building in Harare, where elections of the Eighth Parliament Session presiding officers were also held.
Mudenda was elected uncontested for the speaker post, after being nominated by Bubi legislator Clifford Sibanda and seconded by Mutasa South MP Irene Zindi.
Mpofu said he grew up with Mudenda in Binga in the remote province of Matabeleland North and it was amazing that he had now risen to the ranks of speaker, before breaking into tears.
“We thank our ancestors for bringing back the speaker’s post to Zanu PF as it had gone to the wrong people (MDC-T) during the previous session of Parliament,” he said in Ndebele.
“I grew up with Mudenda at an area which was neglected and his rise to the speaker’s post is amazing.”
Mudenda is the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson and a member of Zanu PF’s central committee.
It could not be immediately established if he had resigned from ZHRC to take up the new post.
MDC-T members of the House of Assembly snubbed the elections of speaker of the House of Assembly, as they only attended the swearing-in ceremony and left immediately after taking oath.
However, some MDC-T senators stayed to observe elections of the Senate president although they did not take part in the elections.
Clad in suits and expensive attire, Zanu PF legislators, particularly those elected into Parliament for the first time, were extremely excited to be in the House, while their MDC-T counterparts kept a low profile.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, sporting a bald head in what she says is a protest against electoral theft, could be seen sliding into the back benches.
The House of Assembly was also crowded, with 270 MPs being sworn in, forcing the clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, to conduct the swearing-in ceremony in batches of 10 legislators at a time.
Dangamvura Chikanga MP Arnold Tsunga and Binga MP Joel Gabbuza missed the swearing-in ceremony while all senators were sworn in.
The two will be sworn in at a later date.
Roselene Nkomo was sworn in as Tsholotsho North legislator, despite a court challenge from the losing candidate Jonathan Moyo.
In his acceptance speech, Mudenda promised to be tolerant of diverse political views in the House of Assembly.
Mutoko North legislator Mabel Chinomona was unanimously elected deputy speaker of the House of Assembly.
In the Senate, Edna Madzongwe was elected president of the Senate with Chenhamo Chimutengwende becoming her deputy.
Meanwhile, the First Session of the Eighth Parliament is set to be officially opened by President Robert Mugabe on September 17.