Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangira is calling for mass protest today (Monday) across the country to press home the opposition’s demand for incumbent President Robert Mugabe to step down. The MDC has accused the government of an attempt to thwart its victory in the March 29 election in order to force a run-off. The MDC has also expressed dissatisfaction with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s refusal to release results of the presidential election more than two weeks after the vote, saying it will legally challenge the commission’s plan for a partial poll recount.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe High Court is due to rule today on the opposition MDC’s application to force the electoral commission to announce the results of the presidential election.
Mark Fungano is a Zimbabwean political analyst with the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey Zimbabweans need to stand up to protect their votes.
“Morgan has called for a general strike today (Monday) in Zimbabwe, and what we now need to see is whether the people of Zimbabwe are going to heed to his call. As you are aware, previous calls for strike and protests and boycotts in Zimbabwe have not been really successful, and one hopes that he can be able to capitalize on the anxiety and the frustration in Zimbabwe, and these people are likely to boycott,” Fungano pointed.
He said Tsvangirai’s call for a mass protest could be detrimental to the MDC’s objective if it fails to materialize.
“I know that boycotts and mass stay-aways in Zimbabwe are highly successful. But what I’m it sure about is people marching in the streets of Harare in this time. And looking at the current environment where all the police and the militias have been deployed, I think it would be a very risky venture and to be playing into the hands of Robert Mugabe who is waiting for an opportunity to declare a state of emergency,” he said.
Fungano said the weekend’s meeting of heads of state and government of Southern African Development Community (SADC) to find a way out of the Zimbabwe’s political crisis would be insignificant.
“I don’t think much is going to come out of the SADC initiative. I think we’ve had numerous meetings that have been held by SADC and the best that they are able to come up with is a communiqué that would say both parties need to communicate and they need to discuss,” Fungano noted.
He said South African President Thabo Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy towards the Zimbabwe crisis would not significantly change anytime soon.
“I don’t think that Thabo Mbeki is going to shift from his stands unless the ANC (South Africa’s Ruling African National Congress party) leadership led by Jacob Zuma who has categorically stated that the results needs to be released and they are taking a different approach to Zimbabwe, I think that is the only thing that can push him (Mbeki). But other than that, I think he is going to maintain his quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe because the risky thing about him being confrontational on Zimbabwe is that Mugabe is waiting for an opportunity to also shut the door from SADC. And I think the moment that happens I think the laws of the jungle will prevail in Zimbabwe and Mugabe will not communicate with anybody and he will ensure that he can now become an outright dictatorship in Zimbabwe,” he said.