AT the two MDC Alliance rallies in Matabeleland North and South last weekend, party leader Nelson Chamisa went beyond the ordinary frenzied crowd at rallies to make formal engagements with key sectors such as the business community, the informal sector, traditional leaders and persons living with disability, among other groups.
By Luke Tamborinyoka
These key groups are often neglected in the usual euphoria and excitement associated with political rallies.
Yet this time, a political leader took time out of the frenzied euphoria to sit down and understand issues affecting key sectors in the Zimbabwean society.
Apart from the highly-attended rally addressed by MDC Alliance principals at Cross Dete in Matabeleland North on Saturday, Chamisa took time to sit down with the business community in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The meeting took place near the plunging waters at Mosi-oa-Tunya at a time the national economy is making a similar plunge, notwithstanding the advent of the so-called new dispensation under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The business community articulated several challenges ranging from lack of capital, slow economic activity in the country, low investment capital and policy uncertainties over the indigenisation laws which threatened investment in the country.
Chamisa, who was accompanied by People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti, assured the business community that the incoming MDC Alliance government would necessitate policy consistency and imbue a sense of policy clarity that was necessary to spur forward the national economy.
He said once the legitimacy of government was sorted through a truly free, fair and credible election, it would be easier to bring back confidence in the country’s economy.
In turn, the business community expressed its unequivocal support to the MDC alliance and all its candidates.
At Chinotimba Hall in Victoria Falls, Chamisa met informal traders who complained about continued harassment by law enforcement agents.
Chamisa said there was need to formalise the informal sector and ensure that they were allowed to operate from places with proper and adequate infrastructure.
He said informalisation of the economy was through no fault of Zimbabweans and the government did not have to victimise innocent Zimbabweans, as if they were responsible for the dismal state of the country’s economy.
Persons living with disability were concerned with the state of most public buildings in the country that are not friendly to their status.
Chamisa said there was need to domesticate the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities as well as self-representation by all the people so-affected.
To people living with albinism, Chamisa said they must get free medication, lotions and sunglasses to alleviate their condition.
The MDC Alliance presidential candidate also met with traditional leaders in a village in Monde, just outside Victoria Falls.
The traditional leaders bemoaned their abuse by the government, which appeared to be jolted to deal with their welfare issues only towards elections.
Chamisa decried the low $25 monthly allowances for village heads, which he said did not befit their status as the custodians of the country’s cultural values.
He said his government would upgrade the allowances for both chiefs and village heads in tandem with their standing in society.
In Matabelaland South, Chamisa engaged various communities and social groups, apart from the mammoth crowd he addressed at the rally in Dingimuzi Stadium in Plumtree.
He had time to pitch one of the most important messages of his campaign-devolution.
Chamisa told the two provinces that stability and progress would only occur if local communities were empowered to make decisions and to benefit from their local resources.
It was clear from the trip, for example, that local communities did not derive any direct benefits from the massive revenue stemming from the huge tourist arrivals at Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Chamisa promised to make devolution a reality upon assuming office in a few months’ time.
For him, the trip to Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South showed that the people are unstinting and resolute in their support for the MDC Alliance.
He had time for highly fruitful engagements with key sectors of society, apart from the convivial atmosphere of the mammoth crowds that he addressed in the two provinces where he outlined his vision for an inclusive and tolerant society that rests firmly on the tripod pillars of transformation, opportunity and prosperity.