Tsvangirai's MDC flexes muscles

HARARE - There were signs yesterday that following its recent lack of effervescence, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC is getting its mojo back, after the former prime minister in the government of national unity led a massive demonstration against Zanu PF’s misrule in Harare yesterday.

Thousands of people — most of them MDC supporters clad in the party’s trademark red regalia — brought the capital’s central business district to a temporary halt as they marched in the peaceful demo that culminated in Tsvangirai calling on President Robert Mugabe to leave office now or face the wrath of the people.

Surprisingly, and despite their earlier claims that they did not have enough manpower to supervise the protest march, heavily-armed police were out in huge numbers throughout Harare — seemingly hellbent on displaying and asserting their perceived political bias.

But this neither deterred nor intimidated the determined but merry MDC faithful who marched from the so-called Freedom Square (opposite Rainbow Towers Hotel) to Africa Unity Square in the city centre, painting Robert Mugabe Way red in the process, as they sang freedom songs and waved radical change placards in the air.

Some of their placards were written “old clueless Mugabe should rest”, while others were inscribed “where is our $15 billion?” — a reference to the diamonds that Mugabe himself has claimed were spirited out of Chiadzwa.

Observers told the Daily News yesterday that the demonstration, the first of many to come ahead of the keenly-anticipated 2018 national elections, had shown that contrary to Zanu PF propaganda that Tsvangirai and the MDC were now spent forces, the main opposition was very much alive and still the major threat to the ruling party’s thuggish hegemony.

Addressing the crowd, Tsvangirai — who was mercilessly bludgeoned by police and left for dead when he dared participate in a prayer meeting organised by churches in 2007 — said Zimbabweans should ratchet up their demands for their constitutional rights.

“Because of what happened in previous years, I know it’s not easy for Zimbabweans to demonstrate . . . We therefore as opposition parties demand, that Mugabe must go and have an early retirement in Zvimba (Mugabe’s rural home),” he said.

“This is the first demonstration . . . we are going to other provinces and we are also going to have a national demonstration here in Harare. As the MDC we are not afraid. We are prepared to lead the struggle even at its worst time,” Tsvangirai added.

“We are here to tell Mugabe and his regime that they have failed to provide leadership to the national crisis. The two million jobs which were promised to us have turned to be two million vendors.

“Mugabe has no solution to the crisis we are facing because he is tired. We are not demanding an overthrow of the government, we are demanding a dignified exit for tired Mugabe.

“We are saying to Mugabe this is time for him to listen to the voice of the people. The people shall rule, the people shall liberate themselves,” Tsvangirai also said to thunderous applause.

Save for a relatively minor incident when panicky and trigger-happy law enforcement agents threw teargas into the mass of protesters, the march was overall peaceful and orderly.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya, who was closely following yesterday’s proceedings said “Tsvangirai has done the right thing and is now reconnecting with the masses”.

“The situation has changed from 2000 when people were employed. Now the base is in the vendors, the economically disadvantaged and Tsvangirai is going back to his base.

“The vendors of today are different to the vendors of yesteryear when things were normal. The vendors of today are educated but do not have jobs,” Ruhanya added.

Ahead of yesterday, all eyes were on Tsvangirai as he plotted the first serious mass action that the MDC has embarked on in more than a decade — with both friends and foes keen to see the impact, or lack of, of the protest march as the 2018 national elections beckon.

Speaking after High Court judge Justice Happious Zhou gave the MDC the green-light to proceed with the demo on Wednesday, party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said “evil would have triumphed over good if they had been stopped from demonstrating”.

“The judge ruled that there were no sufficient grounds to stop this demonstration. The judge also said the presence of police was not necessary for the exercise of the right to demonstrate. He even said the police must facilitate the demonstration.

“The ruling represents a milestone for the future. Indeed, we do not expect to be coming back to the courts when we plan other demonstrations. We hope the police have learnt their lessons.

“Whoever is the officer who is going to try and stop us tomorrow is going to personally bear the responsibility of what happens tomorrow, including paying the costs. Any disruption of the demonstration will be unlawful,” an elated Mwonzora said.

The court also ruled that police officer commanding Harare Central district, Newbert Saunyama, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo should pay all the legal costs that were incurred by the MDC in its court challenge.

Since Zanu PF controversially won the 2013 elections, the economy has been on a precipitous downward slide, with thousands of companies closing shop and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs in the process.

Yesterday’s demo was also seen as a replay of the 2007 mass prayer that was violently disrupted by the police — with the indefatigable Tsvangirai a living victim of the law enforcement agents’ heavy-handedness then.

Drawing parallels between now and 2007, both political and economic experts say the country has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were last experienced before the establishment of the government of national unity in 2009.

Then, the country’s seemingly unending political crises precipitated an economic meltdown of monumental proportions — which culminated in the death of the Zimbabwe dollar, as well as mass emigrations.

Indeed, and despite the best efforts of Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya and his team to mitigate the situation, the debilitating cash shortages that hit local banks a few weeks ago are worsening, sending the country’s long-suffering citizens and the few remaining companies into panic mode.

Analysts say the cash crunch manifests “the sad reality” that Zimbabwe’s economy is continuing on its catastrophic downward spiral — a consequence of the country’s decades-old political crises that are widely blamed on Mugabe and Zanu PF.

The country started experiencing serious cash shortages at the beginning of this year, resulting in the central bank imposing limits on withdrawals — a move that is said to have seen many companies and individuals opting not to deposit their money with financial institutions, thereby worsening the crisis.

The Daily News has also previously reported that there are growing concerns that Zimbabwe has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were last experienced in 2008, when the country’s seemingly unending political crises knocked Zimbabwe’s economy cold.

Many political and economic observers have also warned that 2016 will in all likelihood be harder all-round than 2015, which was itself generally described as an annus horribilis (horrible year).

They said there was “little hope” that life would get better for most Zimbabweans, and that if anything, the country’s ailing economy would get sicker, while the deadly factional and succession wars ravaging the post-congress Zanu PF were set to worsen.

Economic and political experts have also said that the recent human trafficking scam associated with some Kuwait nationals also showed that Zimbabweans had now become so desperate that they were willing to do anything, no matter how dangerous, to survive.

Only a month ago, the Harare Magistrates’ Courts charged a Kuwait embassy official with human trafficking — after about 200 local women had allegedly been lured to the Gulf region country where they were turned into slaves.

And instead of attending to the country’s worsening political and socio-economic crises, Zanu PF bigwigs are embroiled in their party’s mindless bloodletting, in which a faction loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is engaged in deadly factional and succession wars with a group opposed to him succeeding Mugabe.

Comments (22)

lets wait for the youth million man march

truth - 15 April 2016

What march lets meet at the ballot box in 2018 and count the votes that is what matters Zanu pf will win the elections by a margin of 83% to mdc t 17% wake up and smell the coffee the march we authorise was to show they is democracy in Zimbabwe can you do that march in washington

Colonel - 15 April 2016

The MDC-T should now make sure that people go and register. This time around we will not allow ZanuPF to intimidate us. For the MDC-T, the 2018 election campaigns started yesterday. Go to other towns and rural areas.

Jonathiel Moyowaonda - 15 April 2016

This winter will definitely experience a SADC Spring of unimaginable proportions. Zim, SA, Zambia, Angola and DRC will DEFINITELY deal with governance challenges. ZANOIDS has persistently parroted mantra that Morgan is finished when in reality even Mai Mujuru doesn't know how ZANU won 2013 elections. To Save, our message is; LETS MASTER THE ART OF TAKING OVER POWER AND NOT WINNING ELECTIONS, CZ WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SINCE 2000. The writing is on the WALL!

Save - 15 April 2016

There is a bigger plot to this.. Yes it was good to see march going on. But let us not be over-excited and therefore play into the hands of ZANU pf. It's time to reflect. It's time to think. Why did ZANU allow this to happen. In my opinion ZANU might have scored more than MDC. 1. The demo gives a wrong impression that there is democracy in Zim. ZANU and its surrogates will use this to show those who care to listen that there is democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe. 2. Patrick is in New York. This together with the hurried clarification of the ideginisation law is meant to help Chinamasa secure funding from IMF. ZANU needs this funding to prepare its war chest for 2018. 3. Mujuru factor. Again giving MDC some freedom to demonstrate is also meant to preempt Mai Mujuru and her ZPF. ....in my opinion this will ensure Mai Mujuru does not get any numbers from MDC or on the other hand to slow down coalition possibility. These are my thoughts. Nevertheless this is not to say we should ride on the positives that this would bring. This demo has shown that people are fed up...and if well organized they can stand up and tell ZANU to go to hell and never come back!!!

Jojo Madiro - 15 April 2016

pple of zim know what they want! they want morgan for change. now mdc need to push from the parly point of vew and frustrate zanu from all angles. the masses gathered and showed solidarity, zanu is bickering with oneself so the mps must harass mudenda to bring us answers. that will tear them apart. the locomotive is ready to roll, heat the water & let the steam do the job!

SaManyika Chaiye - 15 April 2016

this demo was against both zanu and zpf as they were complicit in compiling the useless zimasset and looting at chiyadzwa. isu to da dhara redu morgan chete vamwe vese kanganwai zvenyu come 2018!!!

josphat mugadzaweta - 15 April 2016

a picture is worth a thousand words: readers will agree with me that tsvangisons picture that accompanys the story is true to the saying,the man is not presidential material and relied on a rented crowd of vendors for the so called march

truth - 15 April 2016

Don't underestimate Mugabe. He has seven (7) degrees and he knows what he is doing, that is to die in office

Sipo Moyo - 15 April 2016

Morgan be advised: 1. You have tried it 3 times. This time around to push Zanu PF out we neeed to align with Joyce. Each of you alone will be dribbled either through rigging or intimidation or both. Combined you will be a force to reckon with. Mugabe fully knows this and watch out for the stories which will be created about you as you move towards elections. The eveil johna and Kasukuwere are busy researching stories to write in 2018. From marital issues to girlfriends. What Zimbabwe needs NOW is to push zpf out of government. I dont mind any split happening betwqeen Mujuru and Morgan thereafter as long as ZPF is no longer driving Zimbabwe. A future split between Mujuru and Morgan is nothing compared to the slavery which we experience under zpf

rogers tavonga - 15 April 2016

Jojo Madiro , you should not be worried that much. Shall you not remember that it only took the courts to light the touch when zanu had tried its stupid antics to stop the demo, forgetting that all courts of law are now subject to the constitutional court, the highest court of the land brought about by the GNU and coming from the MDCT side? If anyone saw a joke in this court before, better be informed that the acid has been tested when the man of the people together with the people triumphed on April 14 2016 in HARARE..

Saunyamatoclear - 15 April 2016

@nyikas,the @dailynews has failed to give us a figure estimate of yesterdays so called demo,are you also confirming that only 800 attended the rally as per herald report

jojo - 15 April 2016

who is ruhanya? the herald one is a contrast to the daily one, is there someone fooling us here? most propagandists underestimate tsvangirayi, musaone kusvipa moti kuora. kuora kwemunhu kuri mupfungwa and the we all no the maggots that thrive on rot & corruption. how can $15b dsappear without trace of even a coin? haaahgr!! and there is not even an iota of shame on the responsible authorities. kurhana nyika kunge kondiwa remu tribal trust land rekuti kana kana mukaswra matiro(baboons) no one cares?

SaManyika Chaiye - 15 April 2016

It will take up three months for ZEC to tally the number of people in this MDC-T peaceful march and most probably come to conclusion that at least 78 people attended the march.

X-MAN IV - 15 April 2016

@truth, You have got to be one blinkered .. ... so. Bob is presidential material, according to you? Or Joice? What A MORON. Country is broke, on its knees, whilst Bob gallivants around the world in his senile crusades, with his minions fighting over the Zimbabwean carcass and you have the gall to call all those who marched voluntarily, rent a mob? There is no way I would have them rhodies back but I think its high time we had all you Zanoids out!!

Dunlop Munjanja - 15 April 2016

Pple,we have seen hell before even the trumpet has been blown to signify the end of times,we cant afford to suffer beyond this stage,lets rise in numbers and make it a point that we want peace,prosperity,democracy,change of governance and redicule our oppressors.

adan - 16 April 2016

Sirs, if you have decided to use the pen as a sword intent spilling more blood as we approach the WATERSHED INTERNATIONAL ELECTIONS for the redress of INTERNATIONAL POVERTY, so be it. But if we as SCRIBES elect to leave partisan leadership and utilize our reach to create prosperity through advice and morale upliftment of our people, we save them from TWO LONG YEARS OF DAILY SUFFERING as they anticipate a savior from the political self-service type. Zimbabwe will be rebuilt by ZIMBABWEANS. Where did the money disappear to? Please lets be responsible and stop entrenching the despondency. The people have suffered enough. I will say this to you. No-one can wait two years any more. I will tell you what you are actually going to be noted by history as culprits of; INSTIGATION of war. If these protests are carried out, we are going to have WAAAAAAR in Zimbabwe and you are the ones who will have caused it. People will die, blood will be spilt, infrastructure will be destroyed and warlords will break up the country and Zimbabwe will disintegrate into the chaos characteristic of AFRICA. You are agitating for the death of a nation whether you know it or not. We already have troubles simmering in the tribal discontent. We have it in the uncertainty of the President's succession, Already people are lining themselves up to take over sections of this Nation. If you persist in this irresponsibility, GOOD BYE ZIMBABWE. This is a moment of serious testing. If you do not see it, HAMENO. You will be responsible for it. I have warned you. Lead the people responsibly. They are suffering, they will do anything, that is why wolves are now having a party amongst them. You talked of an Embassy official we expect to be responsible taking advantage of the peoples' suffering. Ndakutaurirai. I am expecting and preaching what God told me_REVIVAL Ezekiel 37:1-14.

Prince Masukusa - 16 April 2016

@prince masukusa,prove to us you are not diibulaanyika or samanyika

jojo - 16 April 2016

I don't play sick mind games of throwing different monikers! the lad is afraid of war yet he can't wait for two years; it sounds paradoxical! the paradox is between patience & war. about war martin luther once said,'wars are poor chiesels of carving out peaceful 2morrows' and about patience anorld Glasgow said,'the key to everything is patience, you get a chicken by hatching the egg not by smashing it' your friend @ prince should have studied these lines and choose one to make a point that could have easly stick into your fluid laden and angular head! without that his statement is too winding to follow & too long for your comprehension. ndapedza!

SaManyika Chaiye - 16 April 2016

samanyika you must be a vampire. urikubatsira kupedza dzinza. all around people are crying. so yu are proud to be Zimbabwean hanti, inga henyu vamwe.

th day wil come - 16 April 2016

definately this is the way to go SAVE. We are 100% behind you. we will never be itimidated by the police . Lets continue to mobilise from the wards. lets mobilise people to register to vote. Viva Tsvangirai Pamberi na Tsvangirai.

raymond - 16 April 2016

Tsvangirai may be good at flexing muscles but he always fails to score . Whats the problem?He lacks tactics and final stamina. if he doesno join up with the Gumbos ,tough speaking man ,tsvangirai can not make it alone.

chakaodza - 19 April 2016

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