All is set for an opposition political parties’ demonstration Friday in Zimbabwe to press for comprehensive electoral reforms before the 2018 general polls despite police’s move to confine the protest to the outskirts of Harare central business district.
Convener of the political parties under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), Didymus Mutasa of the Zimbabwe People First party, told journalists the march to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will go ahead as planned.
Mutasa, who was flanked by some NERA principals, former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T and Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe, said the march will culminate with the handing of the petition to ZEC and an address by NERA leaders at the electoral body’s headquarters.
He said opposition political parties had realized that at the centre of the current national problems facing Zimbabwe was a crisis of legitimacy, hence the demand for electoral reforms and a clear road map to the next election.
Mutasa said the parties want the Southern African Development Community to support Zimbabweans in their demand for free and fair elections.
Though the political parties have complied with the legal requirement of notifying the police about the march, police said with an expected crowd of 150,000, they were discouraging the parties from marching in Harare city centre.
The police claimed that the protesters would disrupt human and road traffic.
Despite those concerns, police officer commanding Harare Central district, Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, said the parties could go ahead with their move to hand over the petition to ZEC.
But chairman of the NERA legal team, Douglas Mwonzora, said it was surprising that police were concerned about an expected 150,000 people for the march when Zanu PF had held its so-called one million man march in the city a few months ago.
As a result, Mwonzora said they have approached the courts to make sure police do not interfere with their march.
Opposition parties worry that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is failing in its constitutional mandate to register voters and administer elections. They also accuse it of bias in favor of the ruling Zanu PF party.