Opposition MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa yesterday disclosed that their planned vigils at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) offices countrywide would kick off next Tuesday and run until July 30, if the electoral management body refuses to accede to his demands for key electoral reforms ahead of the month-end polls.
This came as Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed yesterday that the regional bloc had received
Chamisa’s petition demanding an extraordinary summit to discuss the “Zimbabwe crisis”.
Chamisa, who heads both the MDC-T and the country’s largest coalition of opposition parties — MDC Alliance, has declared that his political grouping had the capacity to stop holding of elections on July 30 until the political playfield has been levelled.
He accused Zec and the ruling Zanu PF of colluding to rig the polls in favour of incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
MDC-T youth leader Happymore Chidziva told NewsDay yesterday they had mobilised adequately for the five-day round-the-clock vigil at the Zec headquarters and provincial offices starting next Tuesday.
“We have applied (to police) to advise of our plans for a continuous demonstration from the 25th and we are now waiting for feedback on issues that we have raised. We made the application to the police,” he said.
“This demonstration is the one where we will picket at Zec until our issues are addressed. People will be staying at the Zec offices. We will start in Harare, but we will have teams in all the provinces so that nothing will happen until we get a satisfactory response.”To date, the MDC Alliance has held two demonstrations in Harare, which attracted large numbers as part of efforts to pile pressure on government and Zec to level the political playfield ahead of the elections.
“The people will occupy Zec offices, we are taking over. This will be a very successful exercise and we will push through to have our demands acted upon,” Chidziva said.
Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson of the South African government’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation, told NewsDay that Ramaphosa was already seized with Chamisa’s concerns.
“It is receiving his attention and he will respond soon. The chairperson is dealing with the matter,” Mabaya said.
Chamisa on Tuesday said he was pushing for a summit of the regional bloc after he declared a “stalemate” with Zec over the process leading to the elections.
Highly-placed sources within Chamisa’s inner circles yesterday said the youthful opposition leader had since changed tact and was now pushing for a meeting of the Sadc troika.
“It’s easier to get the troika to meet than have a summit. A summit would need all countries to agree, it’s by consensus. So the pressure has now been moved to Angola (current Sadc troika chairperson) to have it convene a meeting of the most important organ as regards regional politics,” NewsDay heard.Besides Angola, other members of the Sadc troika are Tanzania and Zambia.
The group met over tensions in Zimbabwe last November during the dramatic events that forced then President Robert Mugabe to resign.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda could not be drawn to comment on the change of tact, but said they had also established that Zimbabwe was the only country with a murky ballot design system.
“There should be a method as to where which candidate is on the ballot. It does not have to depend on which side of the bed the electoral management body’s boss wakes up on in the morning,” he said.
“Zimbabwe cannot be a bad apple. Some countries actually conduct a draw, candidates pick a ball and if the number they pick comes first then they are placed at the top of the ballot.”
Chamisa said he had flagged two important issues, the ballot paper as well as the voters’ roll.
Meanwhile, former United Nations secretary-general and chairman of the highly-respected global Elders Council, Kofi Annan, told South African media that he would arrive in Zimbabwe today.
“We will meet newspaper publishers, church groups and as well as diplomats about working to deliver clean and fair elections. Elections with integrity. Elections with integrity confer legitimacy on the winner, but it also provides security for the loser,” Annan told SABC during a symbolic walk in remembrance of the late South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations.
“So we will have broad discussions with everybody and encourage them to move in the right direction, to avoid violence and to accept the results of the election,” he added.