Winter of discontent: MDC readies for provincial demos

Supporters of MDC protest against alleged widespread fraud by the election authority and ruling party, after the announcement of election's results, in the streets of Harare. AFP Photo

MDC Midlands and Bulawayo provinces are readying their structures for the party’s nationwide protests against President Emmerson Mnangawa’s alleged mismanagement of the economy and unwillingness to reach a negotiated political settlement.

Long-suffering Zimbabweans are grappling with the ever-rising cost of living, shortages of fuel and rolling power cuts, among other challenges.

Mnangagwa has on several occasions said the “pain” that Zimbabweans were going through is necessary to undo his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s mismanagement of the economy.

The MDC, which continues to poke holes into Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, has called for protests in Harare on Friday, Bulawayo on Monday and Gweru on Tuesday.

On Sunday, MDC provincial leadership gathered in Gweru for a crunch meeting after notifying the police of the intended march on Thursday last week.

Searchmore Muringani, the MDC Midlands provincial deputy spokesperson, told Southern Eye yesterday that the leaders had since formed three ad hoc committees to ensure the protests are flawless.

“We have formed the organising committee, fundraising committee and the information committee. Each one of these has set targets that will ensure the demonstration is a huge success,” he said.

“The party is calling for mass demonstrations against the undemocratic rule of Zanu-PF and stolen elections from our president Advocate Nelson Chamisa. The party decided that we reclaim our stolen victory through democratic and constitutional means. Midlands people will be marching for freedom and against other economic challenges like skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, electricity blackouts, increased poverty and penury, hunger and starvation, high-profile corruption that has become routine rather than episodic and more than 90% unemployment rate since Mnangagwa took over power from former President Robert Mugabe through a military coup in November 2017.”

Muringani also highlighted that party leaders had been asked to provide transport from all corners of the province on Saturday.

“The house (August 11 provincial meeting) resolved that everyone has a duty to moblise for this important event and make sure leaders from our province must attend in support of our quest for democracy and president Nelson Chamisa’s signal for the people’s demonstrations,” he said.

“Safety is guaranteed since the demonstration is going to be peaceful. Our party security is on high alert against our opponents who might send rogue elements to come and disrupt our programme.”

MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza confirmed they have applied to the police for permission to pile pressure on government to find lasting solutions to the country’s socio-economic crisis.

“We have made a notification to the police. Our peaceful demonstration will go ahead on August 19, 2019,” Chirowodza said, adding the protest will go ahead with or without the police clearance.

“It’s not up to them to give a go-ahead. Theirs is to acknowledge receipt of our notification and to provide security to protesters. They have no right to interfere with our rights. We are yet to sit and draw up a route for the march.”

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube refused to comment on the matter.

“On that one, I suggest you talk to Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi,” Ncube said.

Nyathi was unreachable for comment.

Panicky police have been moving around Bulawayo suburbs pleading with residents to ignore the calls to protest. In January, MDC protests against a steep fuel price hike led to the looting and burning of some shops and brought business to a standstill.

Source – newsday