WASHINGTON DC —
All is set for the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai’s Bulawayo Provincial Protest March on Saturday against poverty, joblessness, corruption, misgovernance and human rights abuses.
The MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khuphe will give a keynote address. The party recently held what it described as a successful public protest in Harare, which attracted thousands of supporters and members of the public.
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party this week held its own public march to show support for the 92 year-old leader, whose party is riddled with factionalism.
MDC-T organizing secretary, Douglas Mwonzora, said his party is ready for the public protest.
“This is a voluntary march. We are not going to force anyone to shut their shops or to divert their kombis (mini-buses) to the march. This is a march against poverty and corruption and against this endemic and debilitating poverty to which the Zimbabwean people have been confined by this government,” he said.
Political analyst Dr. Nkululeko Sibanda of Huddersfield University in London told VOA Studio 7 the MDC-T needs to prove that it is more popular than President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party as it needs to draw thousands of people into the streets of Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo and beyond.
“It is an opportune moment to take away the sort of sense that the Zanu PF march had given which is that (Mr.) Mugabe has a lot of support. I think it has always been a huge concern within the MDC itself and within the democratic forces those who hope that President Mugabe will relinquish power to a more democratic government that the march by Zanu PF may in effect may be consolidating Mugabe as a much crowd puller than anybody else in the opposition.
“As a result of that therefore it is likely to be concerning if the march by MDC does not manage to overshadow or outmaneuver the march by Zanu PF because then that would give a lot more legitimacy to any claims by Mugabe that he is a much bigger crowd puller. It would be much useful if the MDC march turns out to be just as big as the one by Zanu PF or if it is slightly smaller given that it is the second largest city (Bulawayo).”
The ruling party held its march on Wednesday targeting a crowd of a million party supporters but according to various media outlets only 100,000 people, some of them forced to attend the event, attended the so-called Million Man March in Harare.
Zanu PF claims that the march was a huge success even if the party has also indicated that they did not reach the million-man mark.
Two ruling party factions are vying for the presidential seat.