by RICHARD MUPONDE
Nelson Chamisa’s opposition MDC Alliance has reportedly resolved to roll out countrywide mass demonstrations dubbed “winter protests” against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
The planned protests, likely to be ruthlessly crushed by State security forces, come against the backdrop of the recall of 40 MDC Alliance legislators and 80 councillors by rival opposition parties aligned to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Chamisa’s party has also lost its headquarters and $7,5 million State funding, with the party claiming the move was engineered by Zanu PF to decimate it ahead of the 2023 polls.
A party insider yesterday said the opposition party’s national standing committee (NSC) took a position to abandon the non-confrontational route and take the Zanu PF government head-on.
“It’s one of the resolutions made at the NSC on Wednesday. The majority of the members of the organ were in agreement that we have to change strategy and confront the government of Mnangagwa on the streets. We also agreed to consolidate the agenda 2021 which is centred on the citizens convergence for change,” the source said.
Part of the NSC communiqué read: “The party has commenced the execution of Zimbabwe agenda 2021, the roll out of which has reached all provinces in the country… The meeting received feedback on the massive nationwide programme to energise the base in light of the well-received agenda 2021.”
Party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere could neither confirm nor deny the planned protests.
“The MDC Alliance will continue to use multiple strategies to champion the people’s cause. In Zimbabwe, we have a governance and legitimacy crisis that can only be resolved by a return to legitimacy and democracy. The MDC Alliance has articulated its roadmap to address the national crisis in our RELOAD document — a roadmap to economic recovery, legitimacy, openness and democracy.”
Mahere said Mnangagwa’s refusal to address issues of bad governance was holding back the nation.
“We are a people-driven party, so the people will dictate the form of expression that our confrontation of the joblessness, corruption, public health, education and authoritarian crises will take in accordance with the Constitution. Crucially, we seek convergence and a finding of each other to take the nation forward and win Zimbabwe for change.”
Party deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo confirmed that they were, indeed, mobilising members to confront the Zanu PF government.
“We are mobilising the citizens of Zimbabwe and citizens of the world of like-minded to converge and fight for a people’s government. Zimbabweans deserve a better leadership, not these comedians who thrive on abductions of the ordinary and looting of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The dictator wants to create a one-party State, it will fail, and it has failed. MDC Alliance is a people’s party and the leadership is a product of the people. President Chamisa is the people’s hope,” Hlatywayo said.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo curtly said: “No comment. Zanu PF subscribes to the rule of law, period.”
Political analyst Austin Chakaodza said the planned protests were likely to be brutally crushed.
“In principle, protests and demonstrations are allowed as enshrined in the Constitution as long as they are peaceful. However, in practice, protests and demonstrations even if they are peaceful have proved to be futile. The Zimbabwe Republic Police are often ruthless in putting down such street protests. This shows that Zimbabwe is experiencing a huge democratic deficit,” he said.
“The MDC Alliance is facing a dilemma regarding the issue of winter street protests. They can go ahead, but there will be casualties. Disregarding the norms of the Constitution seems to be the order of the day in Zimbabwe,” Chakaodza added.
- Follow Richard on Twitter @muponderichard