Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change is pressing on with its plans to hold demonstrations Friday in the capital, Harare.
Addressing a press conference in Harare on Wednesday, the party’s spokesperson, Daniel Molokele, quelled rumors and reports that the party had cancelled the demonstrations.
“Ignore this whole propaganda,” Molokele told journalists from the party’s Morgan Tsvangirai House headquarters.
“We are definitely going ahead. That is the message that is coming out. All systems go, and it is very important for everyone out there to know we are not even thinking twice. We are very clear. Emphatically clear that on Friday we are going ahead,” Molokele stressed.
Molokele further said that Friday’s demonstration was “just the launch date” of a series of other demonstrations the party plans to hold throughout the country, until the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa resolves issues the party has raised pertaining to the state of the economy and human rights.
“It’s a permanent process,” said Molokele, and announced that the party will hold similar demonstrations in Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare respectively, beginning Monday next week.
“We will continue to roll out town by town, city by city, so this is a nationwide strategy to all Zimbabweans across the country to freely express themselves,” said Molokele.
Zimbabwe’s constitution allows for demonstrations in the country, but the government has discouraged citizens from participating in the MDC protests, fearing an outbreak of violence.
Speaking at a cabinet briefing in Harare, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said, “As Zimbabweans, let us shun the culture of violence, which brings about the loss of livelihoods, and undermines our peace and unity."
Earlier in the week during Heroes Day commemorations, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, who is also the deputy minister of defense, criticized the opposition’s plans to demonstrate.
The secretary general of the ruling Zanu-PF’s Youth League, Lewis Matutu, has threatened to stop the protests from going ahead, citing the looting of shots and theft during previous demonstrations.
“We can’t allow them to do that again,” said Matutu.
The chairman of the Mashonaland West Zanu-PF Youth League, Vengai Musengi, whose group will be holding a separate gathering at the Harare Gardens on Friday, said they do not plan to disrupt the demonstrations, but will do so if they turn violent.
The MDC led by former presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa, who challenged the outcome of last year’s elections in court, has continued to question President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, and attributes the country’s economic decline, on that fact.
“The election was stolen in broad daylight, and since then, the crisis of legitimacy has manifested itself through a multi-layer of challenges that have manifested themselves through such issues as power shortages, the load shedding we are seeing, water and fuel shortages, indecent wages, high prices and general erosion of people’s dignity, among other challenges,” said Molokele.
Mnangagwa and his government have dismissed the MDC claims of legitimacy, saying the Constitutional Court decision declaring him the winner of the elections, was unanimous.
Mnangagwa has called on the MDC to join in ongoing dialogue aimed to address the economy and other issues, but the MDC and five other opposition parties that contested the elections, have refused.