MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa received a major boost yesterday when Zipra veterans threw their weight behind his campaign, a few days before the country holds watershed elections.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The war veterans were part of Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa’s entourage at Chamisa’s rally at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium, where the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s son, Sibangilizwe, gave a solidarity message.
Dabengwa has publicly backed the youthful MDC Alliance candidate in a move analysts say will give the coalition the liberation war credentials whose absence was viewed as a disadvantage for the opposition in previous elections.
The former Zipra intelligence supremo said Zimbabweans must show the same spirit they had in November last year when protests forced former president Robert Mugabe to resign.
“We showed solidarity,” he said. “We showed we are one people. We made it very clear that those who had been given the mandate to administer the affairs of this country had completely failed.”
Dabengwa said Zanu PF had no capacity to solve Zimbabwe’s problems, which it created through misrule.
“After (Mugabe was removed) some people said that was the voice of God, but some of us said this is an opportunity we must seize to correct everything wrong in this country and make a fresh start,” he said. “This is what it is all about, we want to bring order in this country.
“Zanu PF is incapable of bringing change. It has failed dismally.”
Dabengwa said Zapu members would vote for Chamisa for the presidency.
“”All our party members will vote for Chamisa for president, but we will still vote for our Zapu local government and parliamentary candidates.”
Chamisa said he was “profoundly” happy to be endorsed by Dabengwa, Zapu and Zipra.
He said Dabengwa will become his advisor if he wins the elections.
Meanwhile, Chamisa told his supporters that he would not waste his time going to court to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to address concerns over the design of the presidential election ballot paper.
He said the MDC Alliance would have a make-or-break meeting with ZEC on Tuesday.
Chamisa said if no solution was found, the opposition would resort to crippling protests.
“Our courts must be sanctuaries of justice, they must be citadels of justice,” he said.
“It is very important for our courts to be independent; they must not be an extension of any political party.
“Now we hear Mnangagwa saying we must approach the courts if we have any grievances.
“I am not going to court, I am not that dull.
“We will go to the people. We will go to the court of public opinion; we will let the people decide.
“We are not joking. We insist. What we used to do at UZ [the University of Zimbawe], we will this time around do it 10 times. We don’t want any nonsense, we want proper elections.”
ZEC denies charges of wanting to rig the elections, with commissioner Qhubani Moyo last week expressing regret the MDC Alliance was resorting to threats, insults and intimidation against the electoral management body.
However, Moyo said ZEC would not be intimidated by the MDC Alliance, which he said did not understand electoral laws and the constitution.
Chamisa, who expressed confidence of victory in the July 30 polls, said the MDC Alliance would not relent on their demands.
“We want a ballot paper that is genuine. We don’t want and we will not accept a fake ballot paper. We will not accept a ghost ballot paper,” he said.
“The least we are prepared to do and accept is to be allowed to test the ballot papers batch by batch. It is our constitutional right.
“We are not going to shake. On Tuesday we have a very important meeting with ZEC where we hope to reach a compromise or agreement, but rest assured that we will not accept any nonsense. We are very clear on that.”
MDC leader Welshman Ncube weighed in, describing ZEC as a threat to peace and national security.
“There is only one organisation that wants to disturb our second independence,” he said.
“The biggest national threat today, the challenge to our national security today and the biggest obstacle to a new Zimbabwe is ZEC, but this time around, we will not allow ZEC to steal our vote.”
Zimbabwe will next week hold its first post-Robert Mugabe elections with 23 candidates vying for the presidency.