By Mutsa Makuvaza
ZIMBABWE’S main opposition MDC Alliance has urged its party membership and supporters to be steadfast in pushing for electoral reforms, saying struggles by their nature are long-drawn.
Party president Nelson Chamisa made the call to members who are growing thin on patience as the ruling Zanu-PF maintains a stranglehold on the State machinery and appears not weakening at all.
“Nothing comes without a fight. Easy come easy go. We are almost there. Struggles are not instant coffee,” Chamisa said Saturday to his supporters when told that party supporters has been voting for change for “ages” but Zanu-PF never relinquished power.
Chamisa reiterated a claim he made early this week that Zanu-PF was politicizing vaccination to score political mileage. He said Government must not force its people to take vaccination, but mist use persuasion and awareness to drive up vaccine uptake.
“Command vaccination is wrong! Vaccination must be a choice. It must be voluntary and not forced by mandatory. Vaccination can be achieved through effective communication and persuasive encouragement,” said Chamisa, without clarifying where vaccination was being done under duress.
Chamisa said it was important for a nation to have accountable leaders and get rid of old-school type of politics built around propaganda and violence.
“We must get rid of the politics of propaganda, violence looting. We must fix what is broken and rotten in our politics. Fresh ideas and accountable leadership built around the community and citizens is essential,” Chamisa said.
On the topical issue of diaspora vote, Chamisa said it was long-suggested by his party and is among the electoral reforms his party would want to see implemented before the upcoming 2023 elections. Given that Zau-PF is unlikely to implement that reform, Chamisa said mass pressure could be the option.
“It (diaspora vote) is one of the key areas of electoral reforms that’s key. Our policy document is clear on this aspect. Convergence and citizen pressure is our rallying point. We are doing everything within our power to achieve this,” he said.
However, their “power” is very much constricted as protests are prohibited under a national lockdown. Last week, Zanu-PF national commissar Patrick Chinamasa ruled out diaspora vote for 2023, saying that the opposition must first successfully campaign for the removal of sanctions on Zanu-PF leadership so they ca also travel overseas and campaign.
A few days after Chinamasa’s statement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisor and rich businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei was slapped with sanctions. The UK effected an asset freeze Tagwirei that block him from travelling to the UK.
UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab named Tagwirei among five individuals involved in serious corruption in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iraq.
In a statement, the foreign office said it had targeted Tagwirei for his alleged role in the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, resulting in the majority of Zimbabweans failing to access basic commodities such as food at affordable prices.
“Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei [sanctioned] for profiting from misappropriation of property when his company, Sakunda Holdings, redeemed government of Zimbabwe treasury bills at up to 10 times their official value. His actions accelerated the devaluation of Zimbabwe’s currency, increasing the price of essentials, such as food, for Zimbabwean citizens,” read the statement.
The embargo comes into effect a week after a close confidante of Tagwirei, deputy minister Tinotenda Machakaire, was linked to the purchase of a brand new Rolls-Royce Phantom from GVE London, a leading UK supplier of luxury vehicles.
According to the UN fact sheet, about 7.9-million Zimbabweans are poor and survive on less than US$1.90 (R28) per day, while the ruling elite have unlimited access to state-linked resources.
Earlier this month, a report released by The Sentry, a Washington DC-based investigative outfit, titled “Shadows and Shell Games: Uncovering an Offshore Business Empire in Zimbabwe”, revealed that Tagwirei had direct interests in Zimbabwe’s major industries than spanned agriculture, fuel, banking and mining through his proximity to power.
He is nicknamed the “Prime Minister of Zimbabwe” because of his close relationship with the president as his adviser and links to vice-president Constantino Chiwenga. – (additional reporting by Sowetan)