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Opposition recovers its mojo: An eyewitness account of the MDC alliance rally

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No wonder when I went to his house yesterday after the MDC Alliance rally, Tsvangirai said to me he felt very fine and his wife said she was relieved. It was a beautiful day in Zimbabwe yesterday.

By P. Zamchiya

There were scattered cumulus clouds in the sky, allowing warm rays of sunshine to bring smiles on part of the multitudes that gathered at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfields Suburb in Harare. This was an inaugural rally for the MDC Alliance. A non-compete pre-electoral alliance by seven political parties to fight President Mugabe in the 2018 general election.

The parties represented were MDC T (for its undisputed national popularity), MDC N (for the asymmetrical distribution of its vote), PDP (for its intellectual prowess), ZIMPF (for the liberation war credentials), Multiracial Christian Democrats (for the Christian constituency), Transform Zimbabwe (for its youthful constituency) and ZANU Ndonga (for Musharukwa, Ndaba). I stopped at Club Joy in Highfields to buy sadza nenyama. Revelers were constantly asked by a number of young people about the directions to the historic venue.

The import is that a number of non-traditional supporters came to witness/support the event. I had no time for in-depth interviews. Murisi Zwizwai, was the presiding master of proceedings and hey par excellence! He even took back the crowd to the house that Jack Built! The talented Paul Madzore sang, ‘Ndoda Mwari Muyamuri…’with much applause from the crowd as we awaited official proceedings. Beyond political parties, there were civil society organizations that came to give solidarity messages.

The beauty of it is that there were traditional and new ones. # hashtag organizations were the most dominant. This Flag, remember Pastor Evans Mawarire. Yes he was there. SheVotes with Joanne Mamombe, My Zimbabwe, This Bhachi, Tajamuka led by Mkwananzi, This Gown. On the traditional front; the ZCTU, ZINASU, CHRA, HEAL ZIMBABWE TRUST, Prayer Network of Zimbabwe, Rural Teachers Union, VISET etc. Reader, I saw Dr Patson Dzamara and many others, though they did not speak.

The message was consistent. Let us go register to vote, Mugabe must go, we do not want rigging, no to corruption, we want decent livelihoods, we want jobs, we want peace and unity, unity, unity. As ZINASU gave its solidarity message in the harshest of tones against the person of President Mugabe, I noticed that Kuda Bhasikiti of ZIMPF was puzzled and agape.

In my mind he could not believe Mugabe could be nakedly attacked by youngsters. I guess it was a culture shock. But you know what reader; Bhasikiti is a good and affectionate guy. When you meet him you do not need to put effort to love him. In fact, President Mugabe was right when he said; he was in the wrong basket. He belongs to the democrats’ basket! When it was time to sign the political agreement, non-other than Paul Madzore led in song again, ‘Ndoda kuyambuka zvakaita Jona….’

I saw Jameson Timba, walking with a swagger alongside Miriam Mushayi to the stage. They carried the files to be signed. This story will be fully told another day but give it to Timba. After Paul, the DJ played Mechanic Manyeruke’s song, ‘Makorokoto…makorokoto….maita zvakanaka’. It was ZANU NDONGA to go and sign first till all the 7 parties had put something on paper. From the VIP tent, I noticed from mafar someone dancing like in their teens with soul and heart. Alas it was Teresa Makoni and besides Tabitha Khumalo. Yes 100% into it. Wonder whether Teresa will wake up in time for church today. Don’t worry about Tabitha she would not mind missing one service.

ZANU Ndonga’s central message was about the need for a national currency. After that, Zwizwai came with his trademark popular slogan: ‘Mugabe hambaaaaah, Tsvangirai Yaaah!’ to the delight of the crowd. The Multi-racial Christian Democrats ‘decreed and declared’ all Christians to vote for Tsvangirai.

ZIMPF spoke about the liberation legacy and denounced attempts at Mugabe dynasty. PDP spoke about the need to give poverty stricken Zimbabweans another chance. Tendai Biti appealed to historical foundations of MDC and the need to complete the derailed transition. Have no grudges and you appreciate Biti.

Transform Zimbabwe was clear that 2018 is a generational election hence Mugabe must go. Then enter Weslhman Ncube. He said, ‘I am sorry’ for having wasted people’s time and got a standing ovation. He was optimistic Mugabe will go in 2018. He said the alliance cannot be defeated by someone who can no longer put on a hat without help!

Listen reader, the crowd was predominantly MDC T and to no surprise. But we are always told the grassroots does not want to see Biti and Ncube, they are sellouts. Today was the opposite. Biti and Ncube received huge applause from the commoner. The ordinary appreciated them! The last speech was by Tsvangirai. What a firebrand politician. As I have said before, his heart beats with the masses.

He has his own magnetic way of connecting with the people. It seemed as if he could feel each and everyone’s heartbeat and pulse rate. Even Jacob Mafume of PDP danced to it. Reader, you should have been there. No doubt throughout the program all the 6 parties endorsed him as the Alliance’s Presidential Candidate. It’s common sense.

His speech was about urging people to priorities national rather than personal interest in typical statesman style. Beyond power, he spoke about the Alliance’s national economic, governance and social rescue plan. For now, in terms of electoral politics, there is no substitute for Tsvangirai. Never mind his flaws.

On that note, I still wish if more political parties could have been there, especially Teurai Ropa. Yet this is the beginning and as Tsvangirai said at the rally, the door is not closed to those who want to join. I also pray the intra-party conflicts to emerge after this for all, as elsewhere in the context of alliances, will be resolved without derailing this positive national step. Otherwise it will be one step forward two steps back.

Going forward, the Alliance can do as much but without finances it seems they cannot go far. There is need to support and build on this political momentum for it cannot be missed. Democracy entails strong opposition after all.

Lastly, mobilization, recruitment and organizing under every tree in the village and in every street in urban areas will make the Alliance a competent force and give it a fighting chance. Never mind, some will always find something to say.

Well done Zimbabwe for now!