Sunday, 25 September 2016


Serious disagreements have hit the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a grouping of 18 political parties that have been agitating for electoral reforms — over strategies and handling of sensitive information which led to cancellation of yesterday’s demonstrations that had been organised in Chitungwiza.

Nera had announced this week, through its legal affairs secretary, Douglas Mwonzora that it would hold massive demonstrations nationwide, starting with Chitungwiza yesterday, as it bids to press ahead with its protests which were crushed by heavily-armed police across the country last weekend.

Yesterday, hundreds of armed police officers were patrolling Chitungwiza ahead of the demo which was aborted under a cloud.

Nera spokesperson Joelson Mugari said they had cancelled the protests at the last minute yesterday morning but without giving reasons.

“We were supposed to be demonstrating today (yesterday) but we were told that the demonstration has been cancelled and right now we are trying to relay the message to our people who were already gathered in preparation for the protests,” Mugari told the Daily News yesterday.
However, Nera convener Didymus Mutasa said he was not aware they had planned a demonstration in Chitungwiza.

“I am not aware of that and the last time I checked I was told there was no activity this week. Maybe it was organised at constituency level but we were not informed at the national level,” Mutasa said, adding though that he did not know of any disagreements in Nera.

Mwonzora added to the confusion by admitting that they had indeed planned protests in Chitungwiza but the parties decided to cancel it without going public.

“No, the demonstration was cancelled. It was a dummy to stretch the police,” Mwonzora said curtly in response to a Daily News text message.

However, sources privy to the goings on in the coalition told the Daily News yesterday there was an on-going turf war with smaller parties in the alliance taking advantage of their positions to speak to the media on issues that were not for public consumption.

“Some of our colleagues are too enthusiastic about being in the press to the extent that they rush to newspapers without telling anyone, including the Nera convener (Didymus) Mutasa and announce all that we will be planning and by the time we want to protest we find the police already there waiting for us,” an authoritative source within Nera told the Daily News.

“This is compromising us in terms of our strategic planning for demonstrations. It’s just unstrategic. There are times when we just have to meet our structures and surprise the police but that is not possible at the moment.”

Both the MDC and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) are said to have been angered by the seemingly ‘unstrategic’ behaviour by the smaller parties.

As a result, the MDC was said to have held an emergency meeting this week to discuss the issue and resolved not to participate in yesterday’s demonstration.

“The MDC’s involvement in Nera is in utmost good faith. Although we are arguably the largest and most popular political party in Zimbabwe, we make a concerted effort not to adopt ‘a Big Brother’ attitude. We treat all our colleagues as equals. In this spirit, therefore, we will maintain strict confidentiality and integrity in all our dealings with other opposition political parties under Nera,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu who refused to comment on the alleged disagreements.

“In this spirit, therefore, we will maintain strict confidentiality and integrity in all our dealings with other opposition political parties under Nera.

“Nera has got its own well-defined and structured channels for disseminating any relevant and pertinent information to the public.”

ZPF distanced itself from the yesterday’s failed demonstration.
“We gather from the Nera convener who is an elder in our party that there was no activity this week but because he is the one the party seconded, he is the best suited to comment on Nera activities,” said ZPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire.

Under Nera, 18 political parties have been organising protests pressing for much-needed electoral reforms ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections and in recent weeks have forced a panicking President Robert Mugabe to unleash police to thwart their protests.

The High Court will this week hear an application involving Nera and pro-democracy groups, in which they are seeking the court to overturn a police ban on demonstration in central Harare for a month.

Police failed early this month with their ban which was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court where they sought to bar demonstrations in the capital for two weeks. Daily News


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