Opposition politicians have said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered on 23 November 2022 failed to address critical issues affecting Zimbabwe.
In his address aired on national television, Mnangagwa urged legislators to finalise laws relating to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistle-blowers) Bill, 2022; the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2022; the Witness Protection Bill; the Zimbabwe Human Rights (Amendment) Bill; and the Legal Aid (Amendment) Bill must all be tabled during this session. The Electoral (Amendment) Bill.
He also urged political players, seeking to be elected during the upcoming 2023 elections to “maintain and consolidate the peace, unity, harmony and love that we have built under the second republic. Violent confrontations have never been part of our culture.”
He said the economy was performing well and highlighted various interventions that his government had undertaken to control runaway inflation and the local currency’s decline.
Mnangagwa also called for the unconditional removal of sanctions, which he claimed had constrained the country’s socioeconomic growth for decades.
However, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya said Mnangagwa failed to address issues affecting long-suffering Zimbabweans. Chikwinya told NewsDay:
The Sona presented by President Mnangagwa remains empty rhetoric devoid of addressing issues as expected by citizens especially now towards elections where the electorate needs electoral reforms that address outstanding issues that have always made elections to be disputed.
We as the CCC condemn the intention of government to smuggle the Patriotic Bill through amendment of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The proposed legislative agenda is not practical considering the length of the Fifth Session which is due to end by June (next year).
Harare East legislator and CCC vice-president Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe is divided, it is too polarised yet the issue of common identity was not addressed in the SONA. He added:
If you do not address the issues of nationhood in a state of the nation address, the state of the nation address becomes hollow.
The issue of corruption, which is tearing the country apart was not addressed. If you can’t address that you are not addressing the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (Independent) echoed Biti’s remarks saying the issue of corruption was not spoken about. He added:
On violence, it starts with the political parties. They are the ones who are the perpetrators of this.
The SONA was delivered at the New Parliament building in Mt Hampden where Mnangagwa officially opened the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament.