Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has vowed to hold its planned protest marches beginning today (Wednesday) despite government ban. The march follows on the heels of eased security laws, which permit political rallies and meetings previously disallowed. The changes to the security laws were reportedly made in preparations for this year’s elections, which the opposition claims the country is not ready for.
The MDC says it will continue protesting to press home its demand for a new constitution as talks with the ruling ZANU-PF government aimed at resolving the country’s political and economic crisis are deadlocked. Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for the MDC. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that all is set for today’s protest march.
“The protest is going ahead as planned. We have agreed with the police and we are definitely on track. In fact we are finalizing the logistics to make sure that people are on the streets,” Chamisa said.
He dismissed the police ban on Wednesday’s protest march as contemptible.
“That is a joke. In fact they are joking, and what we are not ready to accept or stomach at this moment is any kind of joking because we mean serious business. Zimbabweans want their new constitution, Zimbabweans want food, they want jobs, and they want electricity. And those things are not in place their case because we have a government, which chooses to play ping pong with the people,” he noted.
Chamisa denied the opposition’s protest march would undermine the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-backed talks, which are aimed at resolving the country’s political and economic crisis.
“Certainly not. In fact if anything this march is going to be in solidarity with the SADC dialogue. This march is going to be in solidarity with African solutions for African problems. And we are simply saying no to Mugabe’s (Zimbabwe’s President) arrogance, no to Mugabe’s unilateral approach. We want him to be done in a manner and approach that would give birth to the legitimate endorsement of this process,” Chamisa said.
He said talks between the opposition and the government are currently at a stalemate.
“Our talks have reached a deadlock. It has reached a deadlocked on three issues; the issues of a new constitution, the transitional constitution, which we all signed. The second issue is the elections date, which we are not in agreement on and the third issue is the political environment. And we are saying that until the issues have been resolved, we will go back to the theater of a struggle that is the street to hold and demand the resolution of the crisis,” he pointed out.
Chamisa maintains that partisans of the opposition would defy all odds to stage Wednesday’s protest.
“We are not protesting to be deterred by the police; we are protesting to show our legitimate discontent as Zimbabweans. And we have every right to claim our space and to air out our views and put across our voice in terms of what should be the character and nature of our country. In fact we are building a new Zimbabwe, and whatever block we are going to put I place tomorrow it is important in so far as constructing a new Zimbabwe is concerned. We are on a journey and that journey is unstoppable of course people might want to block us, but ultimately, we will get to that new Zimbabwe,” Chamisa maintained.
The opposition MDC is urging the mediator of the talks who is also South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki to refer the stalled talks to the Southern African Development Community for redress.