OPPOSITION leaders yesterday took turns to endorse MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai as the face of an envisaged coalition of political parties ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
This came out during solidarity messages at the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera)-led demonstration at Freedom Square in Harare which was attended by various political parties and social movements.
The parties later petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) with a litany of demands, top among them electoral reforms.
ZimPF founder and caretaker leader Didymus Mutasa said only Tsvangirai should lead the coalition.
“We started a long time ago to say this government must go. I also said it sometime ago and if you want to know who we support, we support Tsvangirai,” Mutasa said, amid wild cheers from the gathering.
Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said their fight was targeted at cleaning the voters’ roll and they believed in a collective fight to remove Zanu PF in next year’s elections.
“As opposition parties, we came together and agreed to fight this (electoral unevenness) together,” he said, while echoing a coalition led by Tsvangirai.
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti also said they were sending a clear message to President Robert Mugabe and his family that they were coming for them and as political parties they could serve the people well by working together to depose the Zanu PF regime.
In his address, Tsvangirai said during his countrywide tours he had heard people saying they could accept Mugabe as life president of Zanu PF and not Zimbabwe.
“We have been victims of this system for a very long time. I want to assure you that it must end,” he said.
Tsvangirai also spoke on the need for Zec to be independent, fair and desist from supporting Zanu PF.
“I want to thank you leaders for demonstrating this unity. Let it be the character and culture of our country that the people come first,” he said.
Although the youthful protesters wanted to defy the police’s stringent conditions and march into town, Tsvangirai restrained them.
“Next time we are on the streets, circumstances dictate behaviour. Are we dead? Next time we will protest going into town,” the MDC-T leader said.
Clerics Patrick Magadza, who claimed in January that Mugabe would not live beyond October 2017, and Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag Movement, Tajamuka representatives, top MDC-T officials and other political leaders attended the demonstration.
National People’s Party (NPP) leader Joice Mujuru was conspicuous by her absence amid reports that her party had distanced itself from the protests.
But MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said he sought to clarify the reports and had established from Mujuru’s party that it was untrue that NPP had dismissed the protest.
In demands contained in a petition read out by Zunde’s Farai Mbira, Nera said having failed the fundamental test of impartiality and independence required of an electoral body, they were calling for Zec to disband.
Mbira said Sadc, the African Union or United Nations should immediately establish an independent tripartite election management body to take over the full functions of Zec that will start preparing on a new biometric voters’ roll, the procurement of the BVR kits, complete demilitarisation of Zec, and facilitation of thorough amendments to the Electoral Act to level the electoral process.-AMH