Farirai Machivenyika and Rejoy Masengedzero
Zimbabweans largely ignored the demonstration called by the MDC-Alliance yesterday, and continued with their business as usual, while all shops were open in Harare’s Central Business District.
The situation was a far cry from promises by MDC-Alliance leaders that they were going to use the demonstration to shut down the city. A paltry crowd chose to be part of the gathering.
The demonstration had received wide publicity on various media platforms, but Harare residents went about their business with a small crowd, mainly youths, some of whom were openly drinking alcohol, gathering at Africa Unity Square by mid-morning.
Police details kept a close eye to thwart any troublemakers.
MDC-Alliance leader Mr Chamisa lost the July 30 presidential election to President Mnangagwa and his subsequent petition to the Constitutional Court was also thrown out for lack of merit.
He has refused to acknowledge his loss and continues to make baseless claims that he won the polls.
Mr Chamisa told his supporters that they had handed over a petition to Parliament, Sadc and the African Union that calls for, among other things, talks with the Government to create an inclusive Government.
“The petition that we have presented contained various issues and acknowledges that there is a crisis of governance and leadership and also proffers solutions,” he said.
“One of the solutions is that we should sit down for negotiations so that we come together as leaders to solve the country’s problems and move forward.
“We should sit down to see who occupies which position, working hand-in-hand and move forward.”
Mr Chamisa said he would work against Government’s economic revival policies, and continuously asked that dancehall artist Winky D’s latest single “Kasong Kejecha” be played.
In the run-up to the election, Mr Chamisa infamously said “ndichadira jecha musadza”, a euphemism for spoiling things, if he failed to win the election and yesterday said he would throw in “pit sand”.
Mr Chamisa promised that if his petition was not granted he would call for another demonstration, this time a devastating one.
Earlier in the day before the march, the party’s vice-president, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, was heckled off the stage, with party supporters accusing him of “selling out” after he attended Parliament’s presiding officers courtesy call on President Mnangagwa on Monday.
Government has indicated that it will only enter into talks with Mr Chamisa if he and his party conceded that President Mnangagwa is the legitimate leader of the countryafter winning the July 30 elections.
A University of Zimbabwe lecturer who refused to be named said: “It remains to be seen how a petition confirming the executive which is a leader to the legislature will make an impression on the executive. The irony is they want to have a GNU with the President they say is illegitimate.
“It shows they are slowly recognising President Mnangagwa as the President because he is the one who will constitute that GNU if ever there is one.”
Political analyst Mr Tafadzwa Mugwadi said Mr Chamisa’s calls for an inclusive Government were a sign of desperation.
“Firstly, it has become so clear that Mr Chamisa is desperate for a marriage with Zanu-PF in a potential GNU and that is why he is enlisting the services of Sadc, AU and the international community to buy his idea for negotiations of a power sharing nature,” Mr Mugwadi said.
“If Zanu-PF is to accept that, it would be a mistake like what happened in 2009 because it subverts democratic outcomes, while fomenting a dangerous culture of refusal to accept electoral results in the hope of post-electoral negotiations.
“The fact of the matter is that President Mnangagwa was the first to call for post- electoral dialogue after his election victory and his clarion call was not aimed at power sharing, but a gesture made in the spirit of harmonious co-existence and sharing ideas about taking the country forward.
“However, Chamisa placed his cards on the Constitutional Court application where he exposed himself as an empty political vessel that makes the loudest noise.”
Mr Mugwadi said Zimbabweans were now focused on improving the economic environment.
“The time for such dialogue is now very thin, if any, because President Mnangagwa’s hands and those of forward thinking Zimbabweans are tight on the deck towards Vision 2030,” he said. “It is, therefore, a sheer waste of time for Chamisa and his bunch of ‘stupids’ to think that they can gatecrash into Government through street theatre and empty threats.”