OPPOSITION MDC president Nelson Chamisa yesterday conceded that he was under “immense pressure” from restless party supporters who want to confront President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his handling of the country’s economy.
Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade, with prices of basic goods soaring and shortages of medicines, fuel and electricity, while rising inflation has wiped out wages.
Chamisa said supporters wanted to take to the streets, a sentiment he said was popular with the party faithful during his whirlwind tour of provinces that began two weeks ago.
The opposition leader told NewsDay yesterday that in all places he had been, which include Bulawayo, Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland Central and others, there were overwhelming calls for action to deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe.
“I have been to Gweru, Bulawayo and Masvingo, the sentiment I got is that there is pressure among people to go on the streets,” Chamisa said.
“People want to be on the street as early as yesterday to protest against government. Considering that people are suffering and dying while crossing the flooded Limpopo to South Africa looking for opportunities that are deprived back home, the pressure is unbearable. People want to be in the street as early as yesterday to have the situation resolved.
“They look forward to the political leadership to resolve the crisis, which is not happening. But what I want to assure people is that change will come and it is not far. This situation is not sustainable, it cannot subsist for a long time.”
Efforts to have Mnangagwa and Chamisa dialogue to end the Zimbabwean crisis, characterised by fuel shortages, cash crisis, mealie-meal shortages, hyperinflation, power cuts among other issues, have hit a brickwall.
This is despite the intervention by former South African President Thabo Mbeki to try and bring the warring parties to the table.
Mnangagwa has been accused of failing to deal with the deepening economic crisis, with observers saying dialogue was the only way out.
Chamisa has insisted on talks, but hinted he was giving up on any prospect for dialogue as Mnangagwa has not been forthcoming, to the extent of ignoring moves by Mbeki.
While Mnangagwa remains adamant that dialogue will only happen under the Political Actors’ Dialogue banner, Chamisa has said he will not join a captured project.
There have been calls from within the MDC for a more combative approach to the current situation with mainly protests being one of the key points.
Said Chamisa: “Mnangagwa has not been taking an olive branch we extended to him on dialogue, and now we don’t have a choice, but take action.
“It is foolhardy to continue talking about elections that are not elections, elections whose outcome is predetermined. We have been down this road since 2000, people voting and being cheated and their vote being disregarded as was the situation in 2008.
“We cannot continue with this national deception and global deceit. The people have the total sovereign power to resolve their problems; it is through elections that executive authority is driven, legislative as well as judicial.”
Job Sikhala, the MDC deputy national chair, said time was fast ripening to bring down the Mnangagwa dictatorship.
“Zimbabwe cannot survive further with these people (Mnangagwa and Zanu PF). Their time is up and a thunderstorm of anger is gathering. Let me make this promise. Very soon, from the forefront, we are going to liberate our country,” Sikhala said in his message thanking the MDC family and people for their support during his treason trial.
Meanwhile, fresh details have emerged on why Chamisa suspended the James Gumbi-chaired Masvingo executive last week as it was revealed that the leadership was not in touch with reality on the ground, neglecting some districts, leading to a paltry 27 votes in the Mwenezi by-election held recently.
Zanu PF garnered 1 811 votes, while the MDC got only 27 in the by-election as the top leaders of the Masvingo executive are all based in Harare, with the chairman working full time in the capital together with the secretary, who is a lawyer in Harare.
“They are visitors in Masvingo and we got complaints from the districts on the matter, so we had to act,” a senior MDC official said.
“Senior members in the executive stay in Harare and they never set their feet in Mwenezi to campaign, yet Zanu PF was visible and well represented. The people ended up voting for Zanu PF because they had no protection from their leaders in the province,” the insider said.
“If they decide to go to Masvingo, before they reach Mbudzi roundabout, Zanu PF officials would have arrived for meetings in the province and we can’t have that kind of leadership now. People were used to impunity and we said now, we are drawing a line in the sand.”