MDC leader Nelson Chamisa delivering Hope of the Nation Address in Mbare yesterday – pic by Jan-Dirk Visagie
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa is looking to take advantage of the collapsed economy, to mobilise for action across professional, political and religious lines against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Chamisa, who had promised to give his supporters and the nation a signal to engage in demonstrations against Mnangagwa’s government, yesterday declared 2020 the year of demonstrations and action, saying the biting economy, debilitating shortages, joblessness and hunger were the signal that he was waiting for.
“People have been impoverished beyond measure, no jobs, no income, no lights, no water, no fuel, prices are escalating while incomes are plunging. It’s just hell on earth, a beautiful country and hitherto relatively prosperous country turned into a hellhole by failed, rogue and corrupt politics and policies. This is the signal. The state of our nation is the signal.
Zanu PF has given us the signal. Our pain and suffering is too much. This is the signal. Change starts with you and me. It’s time to answer the call,” he said.
The MDC said it would, henceforth, be mobilising all Zimbabweans to engage in a fight which Chamisa said would be non-partisan and would focus on five key pillars.
“Fight for a people’s government, fight for a better life and dignity, fight against corruption, fight for the people’s rights, freedoms and security of persons and the fight in defence of the Constitution and constitutionalism,” Chamisa said .
The MDC leader said the Mnangagwa regime had dehumanised the people and was now using poverty as a weapon of repression.
He declared the MDC would end the poverty through peaceful confrontation and resistance.
“Man-made poverty is being used as a tool of repression and oppression, while poverty has been weaponised to enrich a few. Food continues to be used as a political weapon to sow divisions, fuel hate and instil fear. This can’t be allowed to continue,” he said.
Chamisa said he was now ready to face Mnangagwa and lead from the front on the streets, saying time for intimidation was over.
“The people have spoken enough about and against this scourge which has come about at the expense of their destroyed livelihoods. Enough is enough. This year, in 2020, the people will speak through action, against the scourge and in defence of their right to their livelihoods, which they must now begin to reconstruct for themselves and their families,” he said.
“In this regard, and as part of BBI [Breaking Barriers Initiative], I will stand with the people and act together with them in defence of their livelihoods under the MDC’s agenda 2020, we will never be intimidated.”
Chamisa accused Mnangagwa of being the godfather of machete gangs commonly known as MaShurugwi, saying he had kept his silence while machete gangs terrorised people.
“The old order has failed to bring forth the new. They have shown that they possess neither the appetite nor capacity for change. They are vacuous; their politics is insipid, vapid and out of time … Zimbabwe from across the full political spectrum of our nation to act together, support each other and speak with one voice beyond political boundaries and divisions created by the MaShurugwi regime which have built artificial barriers between and among Zimbabweans,” he said.
Drawing the line, Chamisa said his party would not engage Mnangagwa in talks at Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) level, saying he woulwd rather meet government on the streets than sit at a table with Polad members.
“We remain committed to genuine dialogue. Our position will not change. What we want is useful dialogue. It is not dialogue for the purposes of accommodation, photo opportunities or political expediency. We are a party that has learnt that the people’s struggle must not be hijacked by incomplete or captured processes that provide limited relief, improper answers and imperfect temporary remedies,” he said.
Chamisa said if dialogue was to happen there was need for the military to also take part in those talks, so that never again should the military be used to settle political disputes.
There have been attempts by former South African President Thabo Mbeki to bring Chamisa and Mnangagwa to the negotiating table, which the opposition leader acknowledged.
“I am still waiting for President Mbeki to come back to us because we told him we will not participate in the Polad talks. But we are ready for talks. He (Mbeki) went and told Mnangagwa who said he had to consult his party, we are still waiting for him to come back,” Chamisa said.
Hundreds of party faithful attended Chamisa’s rally in Mbare, which happened without any incident as the police stayed away from the venue.
Some supporters strategically positioned themselves away from the rallying point ready to take flight in the event of police descending on the address.