MDC ALLIANCE DEMO FLOPS : HERALD
The much-hyped MDC Alliance demonstration to press its demands for so-called electoral reforms largely flopped yesterday as a majority of Harare residents ignored the event and went about their business.
Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa last week threatened to shut down Harare with massive demonstrations, but he got a rude awakening yesterday after a sparse crowd turned up for the event.
In a show of political tolerance by President Mnangagwa’s administration, the alliance was cleared to hold its demonstration uninterrupted despite breaching some of the conditions set by the police.
Addressing the crowd, alliance leaders took turns to make threats of violence to foist their demands on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
They also displayed disregard for the Constitution on the operations of independent commissions such as ZEC, with Mr Chamisa saying his demands to reform the electoral body were “administrative” and that they had nothing to do with amendments to the Electoral Act.
“We have said that for elections to be held on 30 July, our conditions should be met first,” he said. “If the conditions are not met, you will see what we are planning and we will tell you. Haivhiyiwi.”
Mr Chamisa said their electoral demands failed to get traction in Parliament where Zanu-PF controls the majority of legislators.
“We said there are issues which needed attention, but we are being told it should be done in Parliament,” he said.
“The things that we want corrected have nothing to do with Parliament, they are administrative issues. So, we do not want to lie to each other that go to Parliament. It doesn’t resolve issues. We disagreed with Zanu-PF in Parliament.”
Not to be outdone on the threats of violence, MDC-T youth chairperson Happymore Chidziva said: “What we want to tell Mnangagwa is that if our demands are not met, this country will become ungovernable starting from July 30.”
MDC-T national organising secretary Mr Amos Chibaya said they would unleash violence on the masses and remove President Mnangagwa violently if ZEC did not accede to their demands.
“If there are no reforms, there will be no elections to talk about,” he said. “We will go into the streets and remove Mnangagwa.”
In a provocation to the police, MDC Alliance activists breached conditions set by the law enforcement agents when they diverted their route and marched past Munhumutapa Government offices and through Simon Muzenda Street.
The roads were not part of the route outlined by the police in their letter to MDC-T secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora.
Mr Chamisa commended the police for not interfering with the demonstration.
“Let’s give credit where it is due,” he said. “The police did a good job today. We have done our march without incidences.”
Analysts yesterday said although the march was needless, it demonstrated the highest level of political tolerance by President Mnangagwa’s administration.
“While the march by the MDC faction was needless and by all standards a waste of time, one salient feature of this new dispensation which the march illustrated is that Zimbabwe is open and safe for both business and equal political participation,” said political analyst Mr Tafadzwa Mugwadi.
“The MDC factions have smelt the imminence of their defeat and Zanu-PF’s resounding victory, and are resorting to throwing desperate spanners into the election with an ill-considered hope of gate-crashing into an inclusive government, amid the ceaseless rising of President Mnangagwa’s leadership graph,” said Mr Mugwadi.
“Granting the MDC permission to do their nonsensical march was a strong message to the world that the Zanu-PF administration under President Mnangagwa is sincere about reforms and that Zimbabwe is in safe hands towards creating a new political culture of tolerance and total freedom, notwithstanding political differences,” he said.
“In the past, the march could have been suppressed, but thanks to the legendary Operation Restore Legacy and in particular President Mnangagwa’s political glasnost, the people of Zimbabwe are now enjoying the fruits of the historic 2017 November revolution across the political divide.
“It is for this reason that President Mnangagwa will be triumphant indisputably come 30 July elections because he has demonstrated unmatched maturity in ensuring peaceful conduct at a time when other contestants, particularly the notorious MDC-T factions, are provocative.”Another analyst, Mr Godwine Mureriwa, said: “President Mnangagwa has cultivated a culture of tolerance. Everyone sees that there is admirable freedom of expression and association. Unlike under the old order, opposition parties are campaigning more freely, have greater access to the public media and can lawfully demonstrate.
“These are clear positive ingredients to enable and vindicate ED’s genuine promise to facilitate free, fair and credible elections. At a time when foreign envoys like the ones from the Commonwealth are assessing our pre-election environment and preparations, this is reflective of democratic maturity.”
The MDC Alliance has held nearly 50 rallies, all of which have been sanctioned by police.