The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance has roped in erstwhile allies, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, vendors and college students for a joint massive demonstration on Wednesday to demand transparency and levelling of the playing field for all political parties ahead of the July 30 general elections.
This came as European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme and British Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Wednesday that they were closely monitoring the process to ensure compliance with internationally acceptable election guidelines.
“We will certainly watch very carefully to see how those elections are conducted, and consider the conduct of those elections as appropriate. We have repeatedly said that if the Zimbabwean government can demonstrate commitment to political and economic reform, the UK stands ready to do all that it can to support recovery, but that commitment is essential,” May said.
EU envoy Van Damme also took to his official Twitter page to emphasise the importance of credible elections saying: “#EU stands ready to accompany political and economic reform agenda of incoming government legitimated by peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections to ensure better future.”
Early last month, Chamisa led another demonstration which almost brought business in Harare to a standstill and shook corridors of power in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as he pressured the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner.
MDC-T youth leader Happymore Chidziva yesterday said they had advised the police of the planned demonstration, adding they were expecting no less than 20 000 participants at the event.
“We are expecting attendance of not less than 20 000 people. These are people in Harare alone and our case is that we demonstrated demanding reforms, but Zec is not listening to our demands,” the youth leader said.
“The people are coming back again to give a second signal that if they continue like this, we will go for action. We want to push this regime so that it realises the anger of the people. This demonstration is a show of anger especially on the voters’ roll and ballot paper printing.
“As the youth commander, we said we will define, secure and defend our future and this is one way of defending it. We will not allow elections to be held in Zimbabwe until and unless we have reforms,” he said.
Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has, however, dug in her heels, saying she would not bow to Chamisa’s demands.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday scoffed at Chamisa’s vitriol attacks on Zec, saying they were (Zec) “both unlawful and absurd, to say the least”.
“In terms of the Constitution, Zec is required to take independent decisions for as long as they are consistent with the law, and of course to operate without undue influence from any quarter. In a poignant, hard-to-miss irony, the idea of Independent Commissions, of which ZEC is a part, came from the same opposition which now seek to undermine and/or overrun them. Not only that, under our Parliamentary system the opposition directly participated in processes of staffing these independent commissions whose operations they now daily challenge and besiege,” he said.
Part of the MDC-T notification letter to police read: “This letter serves to notify you that we are going to have a demonstration on July 11. We wish to demonstrate against Zec for failing to provide us with a complete biometric voters’ roll and failing to be fully transparent on the ballot process.”
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said their members would participate in the demonstration because they were equally worried about Zec’s conduct.
“Our members have come to the offices and complained that elections are being manipulated, that Zec is not independent, that Zec is allegedly assisting one party to win the elections and that Zec has been part and parcel of the rigging system.
“No one has approached us (to take part in the demonstration), but I have no doubt that our members might be joining in because they are not happy. I will not be surprised if ZCTU members are part of that demonstration,” Ncube said, while reiterating that their organisation was independent of political parties.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) secretary-general Ashleigh Pfunye confirmed they will be taking part in the demo to pile pressure on Zec.
“As the students, we will offer our solidarity to the MDC Alliance not because we are in support of it, but because we don’t want to set a bad precedence of going to an election without reforms,” Pfunye said.
“We want to avoid a scenario where the electoral process is manipulated and the manipulators walk away freely so our solidarity is based on ideas and principles and thus we will show maximum support for the MDC Alliance.”
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) leader Samuel Wadzai said vendors will be in full force to ratchet up pressure on Zec and government over electoral reforms.
“We will contribute to any process that aims at ensuring that there is a free and fair election and peaceful transition in Zimbabwe.
“Vendors constitute a huge percentage of potential voters and it’s within our right to be part and parcel of processes that seek to ensure the holding of free and fair elections and the demands being put forward by the opposition are legitimate in our view. We, therefore, urge our members participate in this noble agenda,” Wadzai said.