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Mnangagwa, Chamisa head for showdown





MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has vowed to proceed with his party's anti-government demonstrations despite threats of a ruthless crackdown from President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government.

Chamisa's party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, however, said the party has no appetite to remove Mnangagwa from power, but wants "key national questions" resolved.

"We do have plans to demonstrate and the aim is to force authorities to address key national questions, including governance, legitimacy and devolution.

Like all other previous demonstrations we have held in the past, these will be peaceful and the party leadership will go out of its way to make sure of that and exercise restraint," Mwonzora said yesterday.

"It has never been our intention to depose anyone from power."

MDC Alliance organising secretary Amos Chibaya said the date for the demonstration will be announced this week. "The demonstrations will be this month. We have a right and the Constitution gives us that right," Chibaya said.

On Tuesday, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema claimed government was aware that the opposition was plotting to unseat Mnangagwa.

"The government is fully aware that some elements want to register their displeasure on the recently announced economic austerity measures and whip up public emotion to aid their selfish political expediency," Mathema said.

He warned that government would use force to break up any "illegal demonstrations."

While Mwonzora claimed Chamisa has never agitated for Mnangagwa's removal, the youthful MDC Alliance leader has in the past few weeks been telling his supporters to prepare for a showdown with government.

"We are planning to have the people's vote respected. We won the election on the ground and it was stolen, but the economy's performance is testimony to what happened.

"You must ride on top of those trucks bringing flour into the country. You must find ways to get to Harare when we give the signal," Chamisa told supporters in the border town of Beitbridge last weekend.

The MDC Alliance denied it was planning an insurgency and instead accused the national broadcaster ZBC of spreading hate speech.

"As a matter of fact, the MDC is not and will not plan any insurgence, but will continue to encourage Zimbabweans to exercise the right to demonstrate peacefully in line with section 59 of the Constitution," the party statement said.

Meanwhile, Chamisa will this weekend hold "thank you" rallies in Mashonaland East province.

"Basically, we are holding rallies to thank the people who voted for our president. We got victory against all the odds in as far as the presidential vote is concerned," party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

"We are thanking them and explaining the efforts that we are making to get back the vote. We are asking what they want us to do going forward after we have been to the courts and engaged the international community. What we are doing now is to seek a mandate for peaceful demonstrations. So far the people want us to claim our victory in the streets and in the next two weeks, we should be done with the consultations."

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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