Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa vowed to meet South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 30 vote as thousands of supporters thronged Harare Tuesday to back the coalition’s call for a fair vote.
Ramaphosa is the current chairman of the regional Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
“In the next few days, l am going to visit SADC chairman and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to make sure that we have protection and support of our vote.
“I will also seek the African Union (AU) support and the international community protection and will not allow any rigged election,” Chamisa told his supporters.
Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was unfazed by the huge crowd drawn by his main rival and touted the positive signal having allowed the protest sent to the international community regarding his government’s treatment of the opposition.
Predecessor Robert Mugabe routinely blocked opposition protests and used brute force to crush them when the police bans were defied.
“They are enjoying democracy which exists in this country,” said Mnangagwa at a press conference in Harare with the visiting Saharawi Republic counterpart Brahim Ghali.
“I think they are so happy that there is an environment where they can express themselves right, left and centre.
“But, of course, in relation to the forthcoming harmonised elections, already less than two weeks ago, I signed into law the reforms relating to the Electoral Act, so the playing field is perfectly level.”
Earlier in the day, thousands of MDC Alliance supporters had turned up for the largest street demonstration since the massive one in November leading to Mugabe’s departure.
Speakers warned they would march again if President Mnangagwa, who took power with the military’s help, “steals” the election.
Addressing the marchers, Chamisa said; “Zimbabweans have spoken, we have already won the election and Mnangagwa knows that.
“Let me assure him that we will stop all processes until he gives us reforms. No one will be threatened. There will not be a repeat of previous elections and opposition has the support of everyone in this country.”
He continued; “We want to save Mnangagwa and (vice president) Constantine Chiwenga through free, fair and credible elections.
“Recently, I asked Mnangagwa to meet me, but he refused. He even declined a public debate with me. Now we are all coming to you in our numbers with a petition until we get the reforms we want.
“Zimbabweans, remember that 30 July is a survival day and not just an election day. It is a day to resolve Zimbabwe’s problems.”
Also addressing the crowd, Alliance principal Tendai Biti said; “Today I brought my own scarf-let. There will not be elections to be contested, rigged or maneuvered and no election which is not free and fair.
“We want to breathe. We want transformation and prosperity for Zimbabwe as we dismantle the pillars of authoritarian imperialism. Please Mnangagwa, do the right thing for this country,” begged Biti.
Representatives of the fledgling National People’s Front (NPF) who included Jim Kunaka, Jealousy Mawarire and Shadreck Mashayamombe also endorsed Chamisa at the protest.
“Chamisa must be voted into power. He will provide solutions to Zimbabwe’s unemployment crisis, he will build hospitals, schools and roads once he is in power,” said Mawarire said.