MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is headed for a fresh clash with authorities amid revelations that he plans to personally lead street protests being organised by his opposition party from the frontline.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
The opposition party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora on Friday revealed to The Standard modalities for the protests against the worsening economic crisis in the country would be worked out soon after the opposition party’s elective congress set for next month.
“The protests will be more coordinated. The party leadership will be at the front in some of the protests depending on the situation. Definitely, the leadership, including president Tsvangirai, will be there on the front,” Mwonzora told The Standard.
Tsvangirai last week told a South African television channel, E-TV’s 360 Degrees, that his party was working on strategies to force Mugabe’s government to address the country’s economic woes.
He said the country’s free falling economy would likely push the election dates closer than 2018. Tsvangirai’s remarks came after he had told thousands of party supporters who thronged Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo for the party’s 15th anniversary last Saturday that it was now time to adopt a confrontational approach against the government.
Mwonzora said the party leadership, including Tsvangirai, would be on the frontline during the street protests to show that the party was not setting up its supporters.
He said the presence of the MDC-T leadership was meant to show commitment to finding a lasting solution to the problems facing Zimbabwe.
“It is definite, we are going to protest. The aim of the peaceful protests will be to force government into positive action. We are the official opposition and our duty is to force government to act in a responsible manner,” Mwonzora said.
He said the protests would be for all the affected Zimbabweans, not the MDC-T alone.
“At the congress, we are going to come up with a roadmap of our strategies,” Mwonzora said. The MDC-T will be holding its congress in Harare at the end of October.
Asked how the protests would succeed in the face of ruthless police response to street protests, Mwonzora said: “We are going to see that. Definitely we are going to protest. We will be doing this in terms of the laws of the land.”
Mugabe is known for using force to thwart dissent. In 2007 Tsvangirai and several other opposition officials and civic leaders were savagely beaten when they tried to organise a peace rally in Highfield suburb in Harare.
An MDC-T official who preferred anonymity said: “Tsvangirai is brave, if it means being on the front, he will do that. It is time for action. The MDC needs to show that it is prepared to die for the people.”
Already MDC-T youths have been having running battles with the police while trying to hold peaceful demonstrations to pressure Mugabe to provide the two million jobs he promised the electorate ahead of last year’s July 31 polls.
Tsvangirai’s calls for protests have been met with mixed feelings, with some people accusing the former premier of attempting to endanger the lives of many Zimbabweans in the face of a brutal police force.
Mugabe himself has already threatened to deal ruthlessly with any “form of lawlessness”.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday rubbished Tsvangirai’s proposals for mass action and street protests, describing the opposition leader as “a desperate man with no programme or sense of direction.”
He said this was the reason why Tsvangirai was being deserted by influential party officials, including former secretary-general Tendai Biti.
Gumbo said Zanu PF was on course to resuscitate the economy through the US$3 billion deal signed between the country and Russia for the establishment of a platinum venture in Darwendale.
“No sensible Zimbabwean will join him in his so-called protests.
Zanu PF is working hard to implement programmes that will solve the economic problems the country is facing,” he said.
“Zimbabweans will not accept such a project. He is wasting his time and energy.”
Political analyst Alois Masepe said protesting for the economy should be a spontaneous people-driven movement.