Thousands of people on Saturday turned up for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, where the MDC president demanded that President Robert Mugabe resigns as his wife had now allegedly usurped power from him.
The surprising massive turnout in Highfield high density suburb put paid to suggestions from the former prime minister’s detractors that Tsvangirai was fast fading into political oblivion.
Speaking at the rally, MDC national executive member Job Sikhala said people had turned up in their numbers because Tsvangirai was “their only saviour from the evil rule of Zanu PF.”
“People came here because they are hungry and suffering and that is why they are here. Most families cannot even budget for a month because the money is not there. They only budget $2 for two weeks and that’s how bad the situation is.
“So they came here to see you (MDC) president and hear what the way forward is because people cannot continue wallowing in poverty. We are ready to go on the streets and demonstrate peacefully, just like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi did,” Sikhala said.
Joanna Mamombe, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) gender secretary, agreed with Sikhala saying students in universities and colleges were suffering terribly because of Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule.
“Things are tough out there for students. Government is failing us as students. We are being chucked out of universities for failing to pay full fees at once.
“There are no students’ loans or grants. So you can see that things are not moving,” Mamombe said.
On his part, Tsvangirai — who spoke for about 40 minutes — demanded Mugabe’s immediate resignation, accusing the nonagenarian of allowing his wife to usurp executive power from him.
“We are no longer sure who is ruling between him and his wife. If Mugabe is old and tired and is allowing his wife to take power and make executive decisions we say ‘No’ to this.
“When a president is tired he should simply resign and go and rest, and allow those who are capable to run the state of affairs of the country,” Tsvangirai said.
A fortnight ago Mugabe was forced to take the unusual step of announcing to the world that he was still in charge of both the ruling party and the government following months of frenzied speculation regarding the alleged undue influence that Grace now had on him.
But instead of dousing the speculation, Mugabe’s attempt at asserting his authority appeared to feed the widespread belief that Grace was now firmly in charge of Zimbabwe — with most social media chatter in fact suggesting that the nonagenarian’s unusual move had only served to confirm the speculation.
Tsvangirai said that the country was in a crisis because the ruling party did not have leadership.
“There is no longer any leadership in Zanu PF and that is why we have this crisis as a country. Zanu PF has no capacity given its infighting and divisions. It has no capacity to deal with the crisis.
“From the so-called elections in 2013, nothing is improving and things are getting worse. Then you have someone say he will invade the remaining white-owned farms.
“He then goes on to warn judges not to handle (Didymus) Mutasa’s case.
This shows that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe. With no rule of law how can we attract investors,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC leader said further that Zanu PF had failed to deliver on all the promises it had made in 2013.
“In 2013 Zanu PF made lots of promises of jobs and economic expansion among others, but up to today the party has failed to fulfil even one of these promises,” he said. He also declared that no one should tell his party when to stage peaceful demonstrations saying, “We have capacity to mobilise people. We will not allow anyone to determine our agenda. We will define the agenda and time.”
Tsvangirai also said he wanted to launch an international campaign to “conscientise the world” about the growing Zimbabwean crisis.
“We want to launch national and international campaigns to make sure that the world knows what Zanu PF is doing to people of Zimbabwe. We want to go to Sadc countries and ask them that since you are the ones who endorsed the so-called 2013 elections are you aware of what Zanu PF is doing to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
He went on to vow that he would liberate Zimbabweans from “the evil rule of Zanu PF.”
“We have an obligation to liberate people of Zimbabwe once more. In 1980 we were liberated from the settler rule and this time we have to liberate people from Zanu PF’s evil rule so that they enjoy justice, freedom and solidarity.
“But it doesn’t come freely but through service and sacrifice. We shall liberate ourselves because no one will liberate us,” Tsvangirai said.
He also said the MDC would never participle in elections without necessary electoral reforms.