Zimbabwe main opposition MDC itches for confrontation

In this Thursday, March 8, 2018 photo, the leader of MDC-T, Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, Nelson Chamisa gestures during an interview with the Associated Press in Harare. Ahead of Zimbabwe's crucial elections this year, the biggest opposition party has selected a charismatic lawyer and pastor to challenge the military-backed president in the first vote without former leader Robert Mugabe in decades. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has initiated a series of rallies which will culminate into what insiders said would be a massive demonstration against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for allegedly “engineering” poverty.

The MDC will this weekend embark on a nationwide mass mobilisation drive through what it has termed Reload rallies, leading to a prolonged demonstration in Harare which the opposition party claimed will only end when Mnangagwa gave in.

“Chamisa will lead the rallies which, in fact, are a push to action. We believe the time is ripe for a face-off with this regime in the face of suffering of the people. Disposable incomes have been eroded while hunger is stalking the nation. Our Reload rallies are just providing a spring board for action,” a highly placed source said.

MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the party will, starting this weekend, launch its Reload rallies to harness a collective response to the deteriorating situation in the country.

“The MDC this weekend launches nationwide Reload rallies as well as a robust nationwide consultation programme in the party’s districts to engage the people on the key national grievances so as to collectively chart the way forward in the wake of the deteriorating situation in the country,” Tamborinyoka said.

The MDC said the rallies would be used to gauge the mood of the nation as the opposition is itching for a demonstration that they hope will either force dialogue with Zanu PF or oust Mnangagwa before his term ends in 2023.

“The Reload rallies will also be a grassroots engagement programme that is meant to energise the base and to gauge the national mood in the course of charting a collective way forward for the country,” Tamborinyoka said.

Chamisa will be riding on the disgruntlement around massive load-shedding, prices increase, particularly of fuel and basics which has angered the majority Zimbabweans.

“The Reload rallies and the nationwide grassroots engagement programme come in the wake of the multi-layered crisis affecting the nation as evidenced by key national grievances that include corruption, massive price hikes, selective application of the law, the power outages and cash shortages as well as partisan distribution of food, among other national grievances,” the MDC said.

Chamisa’s party declared that despite threats of a firm, effective and smooth clampdown of any protests using security forces, the nation was ready.

“The MDC is on a robust crusade to consult the people so that the nation embarks on a constitutional and legitimate programme of peaceful political pressure to express national displeasure at the worsening plight of the Zimbabwean citizenry. The nation is ready for change and the mood is ripe for a new beginning,” the MDC charged in a statement.

The call by the MDC came as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) declared a stalemate in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. The labour movement was also mobilising for demonstrations.

The ZCTU also insisted government must end austerity measures that have impoverished many and remove Statutory Instrument 142 which banned the multi-currency regime and reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar.

“A mass action will happen in this country. We will not be cowed into a corner, unless austerity ends, Statutory Instrument 142 is revoked and government engages in genuine dialogue with labour to create social safety nets,” ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said during a radio interview with Heart & Soul TV.

“We have no choice, but to use our legitimate power to bring the government to understand the real issues.”

Mutasa added that labour will be ready to face off with government in two weeks because austerity measures have condemned its members to poverty, death and hunger.

“Workers can’t afford to pay for medical fees and are dying in hospitals. They can’t feed their families. There is starvation in homes,” he said.

“Look around schools, parents can’t afford to buy winter clothing. There is serious poverty with teachers, police and soldiers earning less than US$30 a month.

Farm workers earn US$12, bankers around US$40 and it can’t take them through the month.” – News Day