All major opposition political parties yesterday vowed to defy President Robert Mugabe’s threats against demonstrations, saying they are prepared to die on the streets for their freedom.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party, Joice Mujuru’s People First, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti and other members of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) representing all of Zimbabwe’s opposition parties said yesterday that following Mugabe’s deadly threats against opposition leaders, they had met and resolved to resume the demonstrations on an even higher note.
Addressing the Zanu PF central committee meeting on Friday, Mugabe warned the opposition, in particular MDC-T leader, Tsvangirai that he would unleash his full wrath on them if they continued with street protests against his rule. He said his patience was running out and that no one should blame him for whatever would befall the opposition leaders.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, however, said in view of Mugabe’s threats and police brutality, opposition parties had met on Friday and agreed to turn up the heat on the 92-year-old Zanu PF leader.
“We will up our game against Mugabe. We are not afraid of him or his police. He must know that we are not about to negotiate with him for our constitutional rights and as Nera, we have resolved to continue with demonstrations,” he said.
Mwonzora accused Mugabe of being delusional and forgetting that he was the one who signed the 2013 constitution into law, that he now wanted to violate.
The MDC-T said it would stand in defiance and let the police decide whether or not to harm demonstrators in the wake of statements by Mugabe, which seemed to give the police a free reign.
“It’s the choice of the police whether or not they should shed blood of innocent protestors. That there are murderers in the system will not stop us from sending a message and taking action which will benefit the future of Zimbabwe,” said Mwonzora.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said Mugabe was caught up in an “embarrassing time warp,” as he was failing to understand that demonstrations were permissible in the new constitution.
“He is living out of his time; an analogue politician in a digital age, a Remington typewriter in an internet cafe. President Tsvangirai is not moved at all by these threats from an old man shocked to the core by the resurgence of people power,” Tamborinyoka said.
He accused Mugabe of always blaming Tsvangirai for whatever problem he faced including family issues.
“He is haunted by the ghost of the man who has taught him electoral defeat to the extent that even where the people speak he sees not them but the ghost of his political master, the only man who makes him quiver like reeds in a howling storm,” Tamborinyoka said.
Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) said following years of experience working with Mugabe, their leader and former Vice President, Joice Mujuru, was well aware that the Zanu PF leader was not a person to negotiate with.
“The people who have been in Zanu PF and are now with ZimPF know from experience that you cannot negotiate with Mugabe. The only language he understands is the demonstrations, so we are not going to attempt to negotiate with him,” ZimPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said.
According to ZimPF, Zimbabweans had no choice but to take Mugabe’s government head on vowing protestors will not back down even in the face of violent threats.
“We are not going to stop demonstrations because we have no choice but to demonstrate. Its either we die of hunger or we die on the streets demonstrating. We are in-between a hard place and a rock,” Mawarire said.
“We have always had peaceful demonstrations as guaranteed by section 59 of the constitution, but it is the police who have always been violent, even teargasing a demonstration before it had started.”
Mugabe warned protestors would be sent to prison if the demonstrations continued.
“And if they take actions that are painful, they have only themselves to blame. Most of them have never been in a prison cell, where food is thrown to them and ordered to eat facing their own waste,” Mugabe said.
But spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube led MDC; Kurauone Chihwayi said Zimbabweans would not allow Zanu PF to “get away with murder and theft of resources meant for national development.”
“Zimbabweans are swimming in Zanu PF created poverty and surviving under very tough economic conditions that may only change after the 2018 united opposition victory which is imminent,” Chihwayi said.
“The MDC subscribes to the idea of a united opposition and great strides have been made to ensure Zanu PF ouster in 2018.”
He said the country needed a new political driver with a positive and capable mind to take Zimbabwe forward.
“No amount of threats will stop the people from expressing themselves or demand Mugabe’s ouster as allowed by the national constitution,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said despite the “reckless” statements by Mugabe, people would not rest until they forced him to an “old people’s home.”
“He thinks it’s propaganda that people are suffering while his family eats the fat of the land,” Mafume said.
“His cronies like named cabinet ministers eat like there is no tomorrow. People are determined and resolute to demonstrate until he goes to an old people’s home to rest or do what other old people are doing, not to pretend to run a country when he can’t pay salaries except his own.”