ZAPU leader, Dumiso Dabengwa and MDC president, Welshman Ncube yesterday said they will be leading today’s protest march in Bulawayo, as part of efforts by opposition parties to pressure the Zanu PF regime to implement electoral reforms.
BY KHANYILE MLOTSHWA/MTHANDAZO NYONI/SILAS NKALA
Other opposition leaders are expected to lead similar demonstrations in Harare and other cities.
The Bulawayo demonstrations are set to start at 10am at the Lunar Park grounds along Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue, with all opposition parties in the region expected to take to the streets.
The protests are running under the theme Together We Can.
Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Esnath Bulayana, told journalists that the parties have agreed on a raft of demands, among them the unconditional release of all activists arrested in the last demonstrations.
“We have agreed that we will only go to the 2018 elections on condition that a new voters’ roll is prepared, an independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is set up, that Zec is demilitarised,” she said.
“We also demand that international election observers are allowed into the country. Chiefs have no role in elections.
“We also demand that an electronic version of the voters’ roll be made available on time. Civil society must be allowed access to the voters’ roll. We also demand that the Diaspora be allowed to vote in the elections.”
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Gift Banda said they expected government to respond in a positive manner.
“It is not that we are pushing Zanu PF to the corner. The things that we are demanding are directed at the government, and not Zanu PF,” he said.
“The two are separate. We have decided to push the government to give us those reforms. We have agreed that we will not go to an election without those reforms being adhered to.”
Zapu regional co-ordinator, Mark Mbaiwa said they had sought police clearance and were hopeful to get the greenlight to demonstrate.
“The law says police should be notified. We are not asking them for a favour, but we are demanding our rights.”
Meanwhile, Zapu has condemned the arrests of six activists and a journalist during Wednesday’s shutdown campaign in Bulawayo.
Freelance journalist, Crispen Ndlovu was arrested and severely beaten up together with six youths.
Human rights lawyers, Lizwe Jamela and Lison Ncube said Ndlovu was admitted at Galen House Medical Centre in Bulawayo after he was battered by the police.
“It appears all of them were beaten by the police, but Crispen, it seems, was seriously assaulted. I am just coming from Gallen House where he has been admitted,”Jamela said.
Zapu deputy spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa said it was ironic for the government, which won a mandate on the promise of two million jobs, to arrest citizens who are demanding that it fulfils its promise.
“It is a constitutional right of citizens to demand accountability from the government on its electoral promises. It is also their right to demand that accountability via public demonstrations,” he said.
“This particular group notified the police of their intention to exercise their constitutional right. It is, therefore, paranoid for government to violate the citizens’ rights as constitutionally provided above. It is the highest case of dishonesty for the government to let their military might on unarmed and peaceful citizens, who are merely exercising their right to demonstrate.”