Chamisa demands Mnangagwa talks as tens of thousands join Harare protest

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By Leopold Munhende

Nelson Chamisa addresses supporters during Thursday’s protest in Harare

OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa demanded dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to solve the deepening socio-economic crisis and bring much-needed respite to long-suffering Zimbabweans.

Chamisa was addressing tens of thousands of supporters who joined the party demonstration, braving the threat of more rain after an early morning downpour across the capital.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has previously indicated that the government would create an official leader of the opposition post, an offer rejected by Chamisa who said it was ordinary Zimbabweans who need jobs not him.

Chamisa has stridently refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, but on Thursday he indicated that he was ready for dialogue with the Zanu PF leader.

“The first thing we are saying is that we should have dialogue with Mr. Mnangagwa, he should not fear having dialogue with us as people are suffering…the crisis in the country is a crisis of governance, it’s a crisis of confidence, it’s a crisis of legitimacy, it’s a crisis of leadership.

“We can only solve this issue by dialogue, come and let us unite, you with the few and I come with my many and we share notes, that is what we are saying,” said Chamisa whose deputy Elias Mudzuri was booed off the stage by disgruntled supporters at Africa Unity Square and had to be whisked away by security as they bayed for his blood.

“This is the matter we want to discuss with him, him saying what he wants, and we also tell him what we want; and we conclude this issue considering that he made himself president and I was chosen by the people and also come up with a policy as to who does what and who goes where.”

Mudzuri trouble

Mudzuri got the better of MDC supporters who continued to call him a sellout for having attended a function at State House on Monday which has been interpreted as an endorsement of Mnangagwa by some party legislators.

The embattled deputy who refused to answer questions on his way out of the park is said to have also visited Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

Malaba headed the Con-Court bench which unanimously throw out Chamisa challenge against Mnangagwa’s 30 July triumph.

Chamisa had earlier this week been accused by presidential spokesperson George Charamba of trying to force a coalition between the MDC and ruling ZANU PF.

If Chamisa and Mnangagwa are to join hands in a coalition, it will be the second such arrangement within 10 years after the 2009 unity government.

At the time then President Robert Mugabe gave in to international pressure and agreed to work together with the now late founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Heavy police presence

Meanwhile, as part of Thursday’s protest the MDC presented a petition to Parliament and confirmed sending the same document to SADC and the African Union (AU).

“We want to ensure and protect the importance of a vote in this country, when the people have voted the vote must count, you voted, and that vote must count,” said Chamisa.

Three police trucks were deployed at Africa Unity Square for the duration of the demonstration with dozens of police officers in the CBD.

More police trucks were also evident across the city which maintained the tense atmosphere often associated with opposition demonstrations.

St. Mary’s constituency member of parliament (MP) Job Sikhala said the heavy police deployment was a sign of fear by Mnangagwa’s regime.

Party deputy president Welshman Ncube, presidential spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda and national chairperson Tabitha Khumalo were conspicuous by their absence at an event which was attended by most of the party’s leadership.

Deputy national chairperson Tendai Biti, Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora, youth leader Happymore Chidziva, spokesperson Jacob Mafume all attended the protest.

Chidziva vowed that they would organise more demonstrations across the country until government gives in to their demands.