Some reports in the media have it that eighteen (18) opposition political parties that are signatory to the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA), are to hold a joint protest this Wednesday 22 March 2017, with the sole purpose of forcing government to implement electoral reforms, and to stop plans by Government of procuring Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits as the 2018 harmonised elections nears.
Initially, Government had okayed the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to procure the BVR kits and later rescinded that arrangement opting to provide the funds that are needed in procuring the BVR kits.
Secretary General of NERA, Douglas Mwonzora, highlighted that NERA was organizing nationwide demonstrations against Government to show that their people were not pleased with that decision.
Reportedly quoted in a local daily press, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa stressed that Government had only agreed to provide $17 million to fund the acquisition of the BVR kits and nothing more.
It is known that the idea of planned protests by NERA is being done at the behest of MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai who after numerous defeat at the polls is now drawing in, little known opposition outfits to fight his battle. Previous demonstrations by Tsvangirai and his cronies have proved to be violent. Shops were looted and destroyed while vehicles were burnt. Sadly, owners of these shattered properties had to foot the bills of repairs on their own, and a repeat of such destruction cannot be allowed to happen again. Therefore, NERA should be warned against such mayhem as they cause fear and disturb peace among innocent citizens.
There is nothing wrong for Government to acquire BVR kits. Opposition outfits have a propensity of opposing Government programmes for no apparent reasons. Procurement of BVR kits by Government will not change anything, if the opposition are meant to win next year's they will just win despite the issue of BVR.
From the look of things, Tsvangirai is viewing himself as the heir apparent opposition leader in the event their doomed coalition plans ever succeed. He sees himself in charge over other opposition party leaders, a premature conclusion as others in the coalition talks also have the same aspirations. Other opposition political outfits should be encouraged to see beyond the smokescreen that they are being used as campaigning tools by Tsvangirai. By now, opposition parties under NERA should have smelled a rat and refuse to be treated as less important by MDC T whose superiority complex is dictating the pace how NERA operates.
Heartening to note is that Government having heard concerns by opposition parties is now acting to improve the electoral space, a development which MDC T and its minions under the auspices of NERA is taking umbrage about. However, MDC T (NERA) reaction indicates that they are already in an election panicking mode seeing shadows were they are none.. The masses that have been mobilized by NERA to protest against Government should not heed this call. In fact, they should be involved in these protests at their own peril.
On the other hand, security forces should be urged to be on higher alert and arrest those found on the wrong side of the law. In as much as demonstrating is a democratic right for every Zimbabwean citizen, such demonstrations should not impinge on other people's activities. The economic and social damage caused by these protests is insupportable. Honestly, business should not be made to stand still because of such nonsensical protests.
NERA should just peacefully engage ZEC with its concerns. ZEC has even gone as far as accommodating NERA in past meetings all which goes to show how open to dialogue they are. Some of the electoral reforms that NERA is fighting for is the issue of security forces. NERA wrongly believes that all security forces are linked to the ruling party; ZANU-PF. Truth be told, security forces are apolitical, meaning they do not subscribe to any political party. Their role is merely to serve the country and its citizens. NERA, to be warned is to be armed, stay away from these protests.
- Peacemaker Zano