In Zimbabwe, the executive council of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will meet sometime this week to deliberate on the continued violence against its supporters as well as other issues related to the June 27th run-off election. The MDC says its rallies were disrupted Sunday in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city by supporters of President Robert Mugabe. This despite a High Court ruling Saturday against the government’s ban on opposition rallies.
However, the MDC says two other rallies went ahead Sunday as planned in Harare despite threats from militants of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
In another development, a court Sunday ordered police to release opposition lawmaker Eric Matinenga, who was taken from his home Saturday and detained outside the capital.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamissa told VOA that no amount of violence would stop the MDC and its supporters.
“There is a deliberate strategy to de-capacitate the party; there is a deliberate strategy to obviously render it comatose. But we have other methods to communicate, and there is no way Mugabe is going to win an election in this country. Of course he will try tactics and antics that are quite dirty and out of the ordinary. But he will not succeed. He can run, but he cannot hide. Mugabe is history; he’s archival material now, and the people want a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe,” He said.
Chamissa said Saturday’s High Court ruling that the government cannot ban opposition rallies does not mean the opposition can have rallies anywhere in the country.
“In fact this temporary relief was granted with regards to Harare. It’s not to do with the whole country. We still have challenges. The president (Tsvangirai), his rallies were disrupted in Matabeleland, we continue to have our rallies canceled in other parts of the country. There is no way we are going to campaign without our opportunity and ability to assess the Zimbabwe election. We are closed out in terms of the state media, the radio, the TV. It’s 100% ZANU-PF,” Chamissa said.
Under such circumstances, Chamissa said the MDC would continue to use traditional means such as rallies to reach its supporters. But he said the ruling ZANU-PF and its supporters continue to intimidate the MDC.
“They are trying to suffocate us of the political oxygen by way of violence, by way of looting. We don’t believe that they will stop disrupting our meetings because what they will want is to make sure that they cripple the messenger so that the message doesn’t reach the ordinary Zimbabweans. But we are equal to the task; we want to make sure that we finish the dictatorship,” he said.
UN officials said about 2 million people face greater risk of starvation, homelessness, and disease because of the Mugabe government’s order for aid groups to halt operations.
Chamissa said President Mugabe is trying to use food as a political weapon to win the June 27th run-off election. But he said such tactic would not work.
“It’s an act of desperation, it’s an act of insanity. There is no way a person who can’t feed the population would say people should die hungry because they have to vote for me. Mugabe is trying to use food as a political weapon. But that is not going to work. The people have made their minds up. The people spoke on the 29th of March, and they are going to speak again on the 27th of June. No amount of frustration, no amount of intimidation or terror is going to deter people from their common objective to have a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe,” Chamissa said.
He hoped independent candidate Simba Makoni would support MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai like other opposition members have done.
“What we have here is not just a question of President Tsvangirai against Mr. Mugabe. It’s a question of dictatorship against the people, and those who stand up for the people should be counted, and we hope that Dr. Makoni is going to step forward and support President Tsvangirai,” Chamissa said.