Zimbabwe’s opposition parties put on a show of unity Wednesdays, where they marched through the streets of Harare, demanding transparency and the disbanding of the state-appointed electoral commission they accuse of hindering free-and-fair elections.
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was among those marching, singing and demanding accountability from the country’s electoral commission, despite heavy police presence.
Efforts to derail Wednesday’s march, proved unsuccessful as opposition parties put on a force of unity as they demanded the disbandment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which they declared lacked “impartiality and independence.”
What triggered this latest protest is the issue of the Biometric Voters Registration, which fell under scrutiny when government announced its intention to purchase the kits, in place of the United Nation Development Program or UNDP.
Addressing the crowd, Tsvangirai said he would not allow the government to steal yet another election.
“Every time we go into an election it is a dispute. Why should we have a character of an election which is violent and which is always dependent on coercion and intimidation."
Tsvangirai, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, but assured Zimbabweans he is doing fine, contends he won the 2008-elections, though he did not assume office.
“The opposition has not lost an election. The opposition in 2008 won the election. We all know the MDC won the election confirmed by [President] Mugabe, by (inaudible) we won an election. So we have not lost an election. What we have not achieved is a transfer of power.”
Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by violence against opponents of President Robert Mugabe as well as intimidation and alleged fraud including the stuffing of the electoral roll with phantom voters including names of long-deceased people and children too young to vote.
In preparation for the upcoming 2018 election, opposition parties which number more than 54, have resolved to form a coalition to defeat Zanu-PF and President Mugabe. Among the biggest champions for this is former finance minister and leader of the People's Democratic party Tendai Biti, who also attended the protest.
"The message we are sending to Zanu-PF, to Robert Mugabe, to his wife, to their children, to their rats, to their mice, is that we are coming for them."
The voter registration has been a contested issue between Zimbabwe’s opposition and the ruling Zanu-PF as many believe the government manipulated the voter’s roll so as to boost its numbers. Tuesday’s march is an effort by the opposition groups to ensure transparency and fairness in the upcoming elections. (Reuters also contributed to this article)