Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his resurgent MDC party plan to roll out more protest marches around the country as they ratchet up the pressure on President Robert Mugabe in a bid to force the under-pressure and increasingly frail nonagenarian to call an early election.
A buoyant MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu — speaking to the Daily News yesterday after his party held a massively successful demo in Harare on Thursday — said “crass threats” by partisan police to ban such future mass actions were only serving to politically galvanise long-suffering Zimbabweans.
In that light, Gutu promised, the MDC was planning to hold an even bigger march in Harare soon, which he dubbed “the grand master of all mass demonstrations” to further demonstrate the party’s pulling power and to force Mugabe out of power.
“The regime is now under severe pressure, which is why they are threatening to ban our peaceful marches. But if anything, the MDC is going to escalate the demonstrations countrywide.
“The police should be warned and stand advised that Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives us the right to stage peaceful demonstrations.
“As a matter of fact, we will be rolling out a series of demonstrations nationwide soon, and Zimbabweans should also brace for the grand master of all mass demonstrations,” Gutu thundered.
Meanwhile, political observers who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Thursday’s massive demonstration in Harare had been successful beyond most people’s expectations, adding that it had demonstrated that Tsvangirai was still a force to reckon with — contrary to desperate Zanu PF propaganda of the past 18 months.
They also said the demonstration was possibly “a test-run” on a number of fronts, including gauging Mugabe’s appetite and capacity for a fight ahead of the keenly-anticipated 2018 national elections given Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, as well as Zimbabweans’ readiness to actively participate in politics and write their own history going forward.
As it was, the march not only brought Harare to a standstill, it also truly jolted warring Zanu PF — amid reports that the ruling party is now plotting to do everything within its power to scuttle and crush such future demonstrations.
The first hint of this came yesterday when police confirmed to lapdog State media that they could be forced to ban all future such protests, claiming that Thursday’s demonstration had allegedly been characterised by “violence”.
But in a robust retort to police spokesperson Charity Charamba’s ban suggestions, Gutu said it was incumbent on law enforcement agents to be “legally literate and interpret the law without fear or favour”.
“As a police officer, we assume that she is knowledgeable about a little bit of law. Our demonstration was very peaceful and at least 15 000 people took part in the march during what we termed the ‘mother of all mas demonstrations’.
“So, why would any self-respecting police service even think about banning such democratic expressions of people’s aspirations?” he asked rhetorically.
The former senator and deputy Justice minister in the short-lived government of national unity also said Zanu PF was now “collapsing like a deck of cards” and that the party would not be able to “withstand the might of the people as demonstrated on Thursday” for much longer.
“Just watch this space. The Mugabe regime is now effectively on life-support. Their days are numbered,” he said.
In a brief address that appeared to strike all the right notes to the gathered crowd on Thursday, Tsvangirai also promised to take the war to Mugabe and to continue pressing for the nonagenarian’s early retirement — on the grounds that the long-ruling leader had “dismally failed” to steer the country from its worsening political and economic problems.
“This is the first demonstration, but we are going to other provinces and we are also going to have a national demonstration here in Harare.
“As MDC, we are not afraid. We are prepared to lead the struggle even at its worst time and also youths you must not be afraid because what we are fighting is for the future,” Tsvangirai said.
“For how long can a bankrupt regime last? This is the end-game. They have destroyed the economy through decades of misrule, mismanagement and thievery.
“Now, there’s very little left to steal. The chickens are coming home to roost. The writing is on the wall. As Bob Marley sings in one of his hit songs ‘You can fool some people some of the times, but you can never fool all the people all the time’ this is what is now happening,” Gutu chipped in yesterday.
However, Zanu PF said bizarrely that Tsvangirai’s statement that Mugabe should resign was allegedly unconstitutional.
Asked if the ruling party had been rattled by Thursday’s mass demonstration, party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo replied tersely: “Worried about what? Demonstrations mean we are a democratic society.”
Pressed for further comment, he said: “We do not have problems with demonstrations which are constitutional. What does the demonstration do? Does it put you into power?
“President Mugabe was voted by people in 2013. Observers were there and declared our elections free and fair. We are a constitutionally-elected government. Tsvangirai must wait for 2018. That’s when the next elections are going to take place”. daily news