By Thandiwe Garusa
POLICE deployed heavily for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) which he combined with the official opening of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe Tuesday.
Truckloads of anti-riot police formed a conspicuous scene in central Harare early morning.
Some water cannon trucks were seen stationed in city spots while dog handlers were also on hand to ensure security was tight.
Assisted by members of the army, police blocked access to some city streets adjacent to parliament.
Second Street, Central Street, Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela were closed for security reasons.
The Zanu PF led government is keen to ensure total security for the State President who is under fire for failing to invent solutions to the country’s fast deteriorating economic crisis.
The MDC continues to threaten to embark on street demonstrations to try and force President Mnangagwa to relinquish his job.
Meanwhile, as per norm during the official opening of parliament, Mnangagwa and wife came to parliament riding the traditional Rolls Royce car with an open roof over an almost three kilometre distance from State House.
His procession was accompanied by police horse riders accompanied by motor bikes, 30 brown horses and two white horses, ZRP and army vehicles.
There was a fly-past by Air Force of Zimbabwe jets and a 21 gun salute.
Citizens who were gathered in the park watched his address on screens mounted at the iconic Africa Unity Square which is adjacent to parliament.
Most private media journalists were barred from entering parliament even after they had been cleared before to attend by staff.
Hundreds of government officials, cabinet ministers, MPs, court judges and members of the diplomatic corps attended SONA.
But MDC MPs and senators staged a defiance walk-out on President Mnangagwa as he was just about to present his address.
A full audience was a breadth of fresh air for President Mnangagwa who recently had a nightmarish experience at a UN General Assembly in New York where he found himself addressing a near empty auditorium.
Proceedings started around 1100hrs Zimbabwe time and ended around 1230hrs.
Zanu PF MPs kept cheering Mnangagwa as he was addressing parliament with some chanting “ED pfee”, Mnangagwa’s most popular pre-2018 election slogan.
Unlike last year where MDC general supporters were also present at the SONA address, this year MDC supporters seemed to have boycotted.