BY BLESSED MHLANGA/MOSES MATENGA
OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says his party was now ready to confront President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government in the streets, despite the threat of bloodshed from State security agents.
Hours after Chamisa’s statement, suspected MDC youths staged a flash demonstration in Harare, taking shoppers and motorists by surprise.
Chamisa, who visited party provincial structures early this month, told journalists in Harare yesterday that the general sentiment was that people were angry and ready to confront Mnangagwa on the streets over his handling of the economy, alleged incompetence, arrogance and ignorance in the face of a “humanitarian and political crisis”.
“The people are even saying Zanu PF is deaf and dumb, so don’t waste time trying to engage with them in dialogue. We are giving peace a chance, but the people are asking, ‘but what peace’? There is no peace, so you will see more protests,” he said.
“Whenever there is oppression, the demand for freedom becomes natural. The Constitution gives us the power. Ultimately, the people have the right to protest and all we have to do is to provide the oxygen and that oxygen will be provided.”
The southern African country is facing a severe shortage of dollars, fuel and medicines, while inflation at 473% is at its highest in a decade, with everyday life getting harder as the price of basic goods spirals in the face of stagnant wages.
Rolling power cuts are the order of the day, while the country is contending with an acute shortage fuel as well as medicines and food.
On August 1, 2018, security forces shot and killed six civilians during post-election demonstrations, while in January last year, 17 people were killed by security agents during protests against rising fuel prices, according to human rights groups.
The police have also violently put down protests by the opposition in the past year.
With Zimbabwe mired in its worst economic crisis in a decade, critics say the country is reverting to the authoritarian rule that characterised the near four-decade rule of the late former leader Robert Mugabe, who was deposed in a November 2017 coup.
Chamisa said police brutality and prohibition orders would not stop his party from rolling out action, insisting that not even bullets would stop people.
“This year is different. We are not going to be wasting time on tomfoolery from any quarter. The police must know that they are not above the Constitution and nobody is above the Constitution. The time has come to say enough is enough and we must do what has to be done,” he said.
“They will try to arrest people, they will kill people, and we know that is their default setting, but no regime has fought the people and succeeded. No gun is more powerful than a conscious people. The time has come to say enough is enough. We have drawn the line in the sand and say this far and no farther.
“You will see more of the people in the streets and acting from now.”
Chamisa said waiting for the 2023 elections was not an option without adequate reforms, adding that there was a need to address the 2018 election results crisis.
“Foolishness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said.
“Elections have been reduced to a ritual and there has to be a radical approach, a disruptive approach to how elections are supposed to be done.”
Chamisa said the MDC would not be used by Zanu PF or any force like what happened in November 2017 when they joined calls for the late former President Robert Mugabe to step down during the coup.
Suspended Zanu PF youth league leader Godfrey Tsenengamu has called for dialogue between Chamisa and Mnangagwa as the only viable solution to the challenges besetting Zimbabwe.
“We have not received any invitation from anybody. As and when it comes, we will assess, but we no longer want kuitiswa kwataitwa (to be used like what happened in) 2017,” Chamisa said.
“We don’t want to do something and someone becomes a beneficiary. Mr Mnangagwa is a beneficiary of the people’s genuine demand, for the 2017 people’s demand for legitimacy, but he came back to pretend to be the leader of that demand and aspiration and we are back to square one.”
Chamisa also refuted claims that he had received a vehicle from Sakunda boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei, dismissing the allegation as a strategy by shadowy Zanu PF social media activists, better known as Varakashi.
As evening approached, suspected MDC youths took to the streets to demonstrate against Mnangagwa’s government.
The demonstration attracted hundreds of people who took to the streets chanting and singing songs denouncing Mnangagwa’s alleged failure to take Zimbabwe out of its economic mire.
MDC Harare provincial youth assembly secretary Denford Ngadziore said the demonstration was just the beginning of many to come, adding that people were not happy with the economic and political crises in the country which he attributed to Mnangagwa’s failures.
“We met as Harare province and it is our duty to provide leadership as it is clear that we have that mandate from the people to provide such leadership. People responded within a short period and ours was a very peaceful demonstration since we have a constitutional right to do. We will be doing this regularly,” he said.
“We were in town for two hours, but police came later and fired teargas.”
The party provincial youth assembly chairman Stanley Manyenga said it was not only the party youths involved in the demonstration as other youths from different organisations joined them.