Nelson Chamisa declared on Monday that he was ready to lead his MDC party in “practical” and “decisive steps” to bring an end to Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis.
In a pre-recorded video message at the end of “seven days of prayer” which he declared last week, the MDC leader said he was leading his supporters into the “next phase”.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and as a people be our own liberators, be our own answers, be our own solutions,” Chamisa said ahead of planned street protests.
MDC officials confirmed to ZimLive that the party had sent a notice to police in Harare and other major urban centres about planned protests on August 16.
Previous protests in August last year and January this year ended in bloodshed after President Emmerson MNANGAGWAunleashed soldiers who killed nearly two dozen people and wounded over a 100, with more than a thousand subjected to beatings and arrests.
“Now that we have dialogued with our God, we have to dialogue between man and man. To be able to do that, we have to take some very practical steps going forward and those decisive steps are going to be announced to you in due course,” Chamisa said.
“We move into the next phase of very decisive steps to be taken in peace, in non-violence in making sure that we give effect to something that speaks to works because faith without works is dead. We now need to do the work.”
MDC deputy president Tendai Biti, after a meeting with Chamisa on Monday, said the MDC was taking a “radical paradigm shift.”
“There comes at a time in the history of any struggle where a radical paradigm shift is required. Section 59 cries out loud. Our people are suffering: poverty, shortages, hyperinflation, corruption and the collapse of social services decimates our people,” Biti said, referencing a constitutional provision which protects the right to protest and petition peacefully.
Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic crisis in over a decade. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power after the military toppled former leader Robert Mugabe in 2017, came in promising Zimbabweans economic prosperity but many now say life was better under Mugabe.
Zimbabweans are daily enduring shortages of fuel, bread, electricity and water. Inflation of nearly 200 percent has eroded incomes as prices keep rising, even as salaries remain low. The crisis has stoked resentment against Mnangagwa, whose government’s response to the planned protests will come under international scrutiny.
Bathabile Dlamini, a former minister in the South African presidency, said on Twitter: “What is happening in Zimbabwe is just heart-breaking. What was once a thriving economy is now a sad liberation movement story.”