State Broadcaster In Zim Parliament Opening Blackout

Harare,September 15, 2015 – Zimbabwe’s state television has decided against a live broadcast of President Robert Mugabe’s speech to Parliament on Tuesday, following threats from opposition MPs to heckle the 91-year-old leader.

Opposition MPs heckled Mugabe when he delivered a State of the Nation address to Parliament in August, something which has not been common seen since Mugabe came to power in 1980.

The MPs had threatened to heckle him again over anonymous death threats to some opposition MPs.

In a Facebook update posted at lunchtime on Tuesday, MP Jessie Majome said Mugabe’s address was heard “in deathly silence”.

The Harare West MP also claimed she had received death threats earlier on Tuesday.

“I have received a death threat at 10:13 and another one at 11:35 on my Econet line from ‘Death’ saying ‘Warning!! Immunity ends in Parliament. If you step outside you become an ordinary citizen. Do the wise thing and not disturb proceedings in Parliament.'”

She named five other opposition MPs who also received death threats.

Majome posted: “Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I shall not fear for thou art with me and thy shield and thy staff comfort me still.”

Criticising or insulting Mugabe can still lead to arrest. The state broadcaster has often been slammed by the opposition for its perceived bias, though government loyalists point out that sections of the private press are equally biased in favour of the opposition.

Well-known rights activist Takura Zhangazha tweeted: “Whatever pretence we have as Zimbabweans at democracy today was put to rest with state media’s blackout of Parliament’s opening.”