ZIMBABWE’s prominent protest groups have differed on whether to resume their anti-government marches or allow new President Emmerson Mnangagwa time to prove his commitment to accountability.
Evan Mawarire , leader of #ThisFlag movement which initiated protests which shook then President Robert Mugabe’s government last year, said it was still premature for protest groups to start going at Mnangagwa.
“I think it’s important for us to note that there has to be a moment with which we distil what has happened before we react,” he said.
“It’s important for now to just respond and not necessarily react. There is still need for analysis really on which direction are these people (government) taking.”
The Generation Church leader said Mnangagwa has vowed commitment to a departure from Mugabe’s antagonistic policies, although there have been questionable moments such as shown by his retention of Mugabe’s Cabinet.
“I think these are all moments which are helping us to locate ourselves in this new dispensation. How do we posture ourselves in relation to this new government? What is our messaging? What are our key concerns so far in these first 50 or 100 days as we go?” he said.
Firebrand pro-democracy campaigner Linda Masarira said Mnangagwa must be given a long rope to hang himself in his first 100 days in office.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
“I think it’s still premature for protest movements to go into the streets and protest because the President has only been there for less than a month now and we have to give him a long rope to hang himself,” she said.
“We also have to consider that he has an obligation to try and reform Zanu PF and the system per se and reform does not happen overnight.
“I am sceptical as an activist that there would be any meaningful reform because he has been Mugabe’s right hand man since 1980 and has been part of the system that has been running down the economy.”
But Pride Mkono, programmes officer with the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, said Mnangagwa’s commitment to good governance should be tested “as soon as yesterday”.
“What we saw happening is really not a new era at all. It is simply a Zimbabwe without Mugabe. The system has simply realigned and now it’s Mnangagwa in. The test of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.
“We are going to demonstrate as and when the issues arise and take public attention because that is partly because it is our constitutional right to do so and a way of putting pressure on him to deliver.”
Vendors, who have also been a prominent opposition force against government’s failure to improve their livelihoods, have staged demonstrations against harassment by soldiers.
They have been assisted by equally firebrand protest movement, Tajamuka/Sesijikile, which has been running its Back to Barracks campaign against the military.
The group said: “This would be a litmus test to the Mnangagwa administration’s commitment to uphold, promote and protect democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.”