Harare’s deadly cholera outbreak, that has so far claimed 25 lives, yesterday forced opposition MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa to postpone his party’s 19th anniversary celebrations that had been scheduled for today.
Reports claim Chamisa had wanted to use the celebrations to mark the birth of Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party in September 1999 under the tutelage of the late labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai to stage the inauguration of “the people’s president” as part of his continued protest against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s slim election victory in July.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora yesterday confirmed the anniversary celebrations had been deferred to a date yet to be announced.
“We have postponed the anniversary, given the police ban on gatherings in Harare. We also thought that it is not unreasonable given the fact that institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe, which are further away from the epicentre of the cholera menace, have had to shelve their graduation ceremony,” he said.
Early this week, police announced a blanket ban on all public gatherings in the capital, including funeral processions as well as church meetings, as part of efforts by authorities to deal with the killer waterborne disease ravaging the capital and threatening to spread across the country.
The police ban triggered an angry reaction from the opposition, which argued that the government was projecting a “holier-than-thou attitude” and targeting its programmes.
The MDC-T also argued the Zanu PF administration had been rattled by Chamisa’s show of force as “tens of thousands” received him in the cholera-hit high-density suburb of Glen View during a visit.
But yesterday, the opposition seemed to have made a volte-face and accepted government was right after all.
Mwonzora said the cholera outbreak was a national catastrophe that required all stakeholders’ input.
“We should all be seen to be fighting this cholera menace. It is a crisis that our country is facing and affects our people. The cholera outbreak does not discriminate along political lines. It has no political allegiance. The MDC is a reasonable party with the people at heart,” he said.
“Our actions, as a government-in-waiting, must always be beyond reproach and should never be seen to be insensitive to the plight of the people we seek to represent,” the Manicaland Senator said.
“We cannot be seen to be politicking with people’s lives. Power for the sake of it and especially at the expense of innocent lives because a dangerous vocation.”
Early this month, the MDC-T approached the High Court for and won an order forcing police to allow it to hold a rally in Kwekwe after its request had been turned down over a typhoid outbreak detected in the Midlands capital of Gweru, about 65km away.
Chamisa has rejected Mnangagwa’s victory, arguing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had connived with Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa to rig the poll.
The opposition leader approached the Constitutional Court seeking to overturn the election result, but the petition fell flat after the country’s apex court argued he had failed to prove his claims.
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