Makoni Calls For Red T Shirt Style Protests

“We are very powerful if we mobilise ourselves into action. Some would say ‘oh what can we do, kunema blackboots, kunemawater cannons, kunema militia’. (Oh what can we do, because the militia will descend upon us using blackboots and water canons) ,” he said. “Oh yes, every good thing does not come easy, (Chinonaka chinodura). We can’t expect the good life to come on its own. There is a lot that we can do as individuals, as groups, as journalists, as engineers but more importantly as citizens, we can organise ourselves.

“Look at the Red Shirts in Bangkok. Isn’t it uplifting to see the power of citizens.”

The Red Shirt protesters started demonstrating in mid-March, demanding that the government step down and new elections be held. More than 70 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded since then.

Makoni was addressing journalists at their regular drinking hole in Harare, the Quill Club on Wednesday evening.

He said the one year old government had failed to uplift the people’s lives and eradicate political violence.

He  accused the leaders of the fragile coalition of preoccupying themselves with accumulating material wealth at the expense of the masses.

“People are the stage of despair that we were in towards the end of 2007,” said the former Finance minister. “People feel hopeless and helpless about the condition in which we find ourselves. Quite often people say there is nothing we can do about it. Some call for divine intervention.”

Makoni, who came a distant third in the four man race for presidency March 2008, particularly criticised the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)  led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, which he said, had failed to address the plight of the people but preoccupied itself with fighting for positions for its officials.

“It’s all about power and positions for themselves. There is nothing in there for you and I,” he said.

Makoni said Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller MDC, should exert their energies on calling for fresh elections, which he said would put to rest Zimbabwe’s protracted political logjam.

“This country needs early elections so that we can have an effective leadership that draws its mandate from the people of Zimbabwe, not from long sleeves and short sleeves (violence),” he said.

He however said MDC ministers who “were enjoying the trappings of power” would not want to see an early election as they were not guaranteed of retaining their positions.

“If Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara cannot make any other contribution to the condition of life of Zimbabweans, they should invest all the energy and the effort they have for Zimbabwe to go back to the people soonest so that Zimbabweans can mandate those people that they believe can serve them, not those who want to be served by the people.”

Makoni affirmed his readiness to take part in the next elections.

Makoni also criticised Tsvangirai, who superintends over government business, for failing to stop the abuse of public funds through endless globe trotting by government officials and also failing to influence the scraping of repressive legislation used to harass citizens by the Robert Mugabe administration.

He also said the inclusive government should abandon the current constitution making process and opt for the 1999 draft constitution which was rejected at a referendum in February 2000 after fierce campaigning by MDC and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

He said the 1999 constitution can pass with minor amendments with the help of MDC which led to its rejection.