HARARE – Fit-again opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is back with a bang and will lead from the front in the planned Mutare MDC demonstration next week — the party’s third major such mass action in as many months — against President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that the former prime minister in the government of national unity was now in “excellent health” and champing at the bit to lead Zimbabwe’s democratic quests, after undergoing an emergency operation in South Africa last month at the recommendation of his local doctors.
“President Tsvangirai will definitely be in Mutare. He is in high spirits, and as he himself has said, he is actually more worried about the country’s political economy, which is in a dire state, rather than his health,” he said.
Tsvangirai and the MDC, who are credited with steadying the country’s dying economy between 2009 and 2013 when they shared executive responsibilities with Zanu PF then, have mounted two mega demonstrations in Harare and Bulawayo over the past two months.
Despite loud denials by the governing party in public, insiders have said the demonstrations shook Zanu PF to its core, after the main opposition brought both Harare and Bulawayo’s central business district to a halt during the marches.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the Mutare mass action would target Zanu PF’s continuing misrule, the party’s failure to fulfil its 2013 election promises to create 2,2 million new jobs, as well as agitate for answers following Mugabe’s recent claim that $15 billion had been stolen from the Chiadzwa diamond mining fields among other things.
“Preparations for the Manicaland demo are going on very smoothly and we expect a crowd of not less than 10 000. We expect to see our president, the charismatic and indefatigable freedom fighter, Tsvangirai, leading the demo in Mutare,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gutu also announced yesterday that the MDC Youth Assembly in Mashonaland Central would hold a demonstration in Bindura tomorrow, to commemorate the Day of the African Child.
“This is basically an event for the youths, and we expect no less than 2 000 youths to take part in that march. They will be articulating issues that are pertinent to the lives of young Zimbabweans, such as the scarcity of jobs, business opportunities and the payment of college fees,” he said.
Since Mugabe and Zanu PF won the hotly-disputed 2013 elections, the economy has been on a downward spiral, with thousands of companies shutting down, and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs — worsening poverty levels in the troubled country.
In recent months, economists have said 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 crisis precipitated an economic meltdown of monumental proportions — which culminated in the death of the Zimbabwe dollar and mass emigrations out of the country.
There were ample signs when Tsvangirai led the Harare demo that the MDC is getting its mojo back, when thousands of people — most of them party supporters clad in 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 Mugabe to leave office now or face the wrath of the people.
Observers told the Daily News then that the demonstration 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 the 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.
Ahead of the march, all eyes had been on the MDC president as he plotted the first serious mass action that the opposition was to embark on in a decade — with both friends and foes keen to see the impact, or lack of the protest march as the 2018 national elections beckon.