POPULAR activist and pastor, Evan Mawarire has challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to prove through actions that he is not interfering with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to ensure a Zanu PF win in the July 30 elections.
The #ThisFlag founder is contesting the Mt Pleasant council Ward 17. He caught up with NewsDay’s Chief Reporter, Everson Mushava (ND) during an MDC Alliance protest march against Zec on Wednesday, where he spoke about his exasperation with the electoral body and below are the excerpts
ND: You are not part of the MDC Alliance, What demands are pertinent to you that have forced you to show solidarity with the Nelson Chamisa-led group?
EM: The demands that I think are pertinent are that Zec should organise a free and fair election. The first issue is the voters’ roll. According to the law, it was supposed to come out with pictures, but Zec released one without. Zec was petitioned by political parties that they wanted to observe the printing of the ballot papers, but the parties were not afforded the opportunity. We also have observed that there is information that is being given to other parties while others are denied the same. Why are they being given the information? The information should be confidential. So we can see Zec is not playing free and fair. We are not going to have free and fair elections. That is why we are here. The issue here is not about a single political party. It’s everyone’s concern to preserve democracy.
ND: Don’t you think that your demonstrations are coming a little bit late? According to the law, you cannot challenge the voters’ roll 30 days before an election.
EM: Yes the law says if the election date is proclaimed, nothing will change. There is also no law which prohibits us from protesting. It is our right which we should enjoy and it will show Zec that the people have seen what they are doing. We cannot keep quite when our votes are being stolen. We are here to bolster people’s power so that when it happens, we will always protest again and tell the international world that we had the concerns.
ND: You led a popular social movement against former President Robert Mugabe. You welcomed the coming of the new dispensation and some of your critics said you were a Mnangagwa project. Now you are in the street against Zec and Mnangagwa, what message do you think this gives to the people out there?
EM: People easily think that building the country is a responsibility of a single person. I started this as an individual and many people joined. If I keep quiet it doesn’t mean I have joined those I opposed. I still stand against injustice, the oppression of the masses. If the current government oppresses the will of the people, as it is trying to do using Zec, I won’t keep quite. I always support the people; I will never support the oppressor.
ND: What message do you have for President Mnangagwa?
EM: I think if the President really wants to have an election that is free and fair, he has a chance to be able to have the election to be held freely without interfering with Zec. He should stop intimidation of the people in rural areas and not close the public media against opposition parties. As President, he has the power to open up the space, but he hasn’t done that. My message to him is that, show that you are a free and fair man, with actions, not words. Do what needs to be done, leave Zec alone, do not militarise Zec, if he loses, as he promised, he should step down with all those around him.
ND: You said leave Zec alone to Mnangagwa; do you think there is collusion between Zec and Zanu PF?
EM: I think that there is collusion between Zec and Zanu PF and one of the reasons why I am saying that. If you look at the issue of text messages from Zanu PF to thousands of people, you know that information is coming from Zec because they are the ones with the database.
The second thing is Zanu PF is not complaining about Zec. Surely, if Zec was doing things independently, there is no way they can be happy with everything that Zec does.
For me it makes think me there is collusion and there have access of giving instructions to Zec.