A protest march staged in Bulawayo this week by the faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai caught many by surprise – not only the police but also some of the MDC grouping's civil society allies.
Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the secrecy reflected steps taken by the faction to spread word of protests without tipping off security forces. Chamisa said Thursday's large demonstration was just “a grain” of what is to come.
But the march of an estimated 3,000 MDC supporters was not entirely to the liking of civic groups who said they wished the faction had not decided to go it alone. However, others commented that the opposition has moved to reclaim its political force after spending much of the past year sorting itself out after an internal split.
For perspective, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe turned to senior analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group's Southern African office in Pretoria, South Africa, and communications manager Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations.
Ngirande expressed the concern that MDC allies in the broad alliance assembled in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign weren’t included in planning the protest.