‘We’ll fight fire with fire in 2018’

HARARE – The youth leader of former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, Happymore Chidziva, has warned Zanu PF saying the ruling party’s plans to unleash violence on opposition supporters in next year’s crunch national elections will be met with “interest” by fed-up Zimbabweans.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the militant Chidziva said Zanu PF needed to know that there was “a limit” to what Zimbabweans could take in terms of the ruling party’s thuggery, and MDC youths were ready to defend peace-loving citizens.

He added that Zimbabweans were also ready to defend their votes in 2018 from “any sort of manipulation or irregularities” as had happened in previous polls.

“We are now ready to defend our future. We cannot allow Zanu PF to do whatever it wants with us and in 2018 we are absolutely going to defend people from Zanu PF’s terror campaign.

“What (President Robert) Mugabe and his party did in the Bikita West by-election does not scare us, and we are warning them that this time around they must not press this violence button again. Enough is enough,” he thundered.

Chidziva’s sentiments come as opposition parties and civil society organisations have said Zanu PF only won the Bikita West by-election by harassing and manipulating traditional leaders and ordinary voters.

“We have suffered enough as youths and as Zimbabweans and we are now ready to map our future. We are not going to allow Zanu PF to rig the 2018 elections as we are going to protect our votes and defend them vigorously,” he warned.

Chidziva also said it was high time that the government provided the millions of jobs it had promised in 2013, in addition to working hard to curb corruption and improve the country’s dying economy, as well as ordinary people’s access to healthcare.

He savaged the “appalling reality” which had seen Zanu PF bigwigs being fixated on looting and with their deadly tribal, factional and succession wars, instead of working to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“All the problems we face today as the youth have been a creation of Robert Mugabe due to his confirmed failure, hence we can’t allow ourselves to continue subjecting ourselves to the same troubles by allowing Mugabe to continue with his misrule.

“I would like to warn (Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanai) Chipanga that as ruling party youths they should stop fooling themselves that Mugabe will be a life president in this country because we as Zimbabweans will not fold our hands and watch such stupidity taking place.

“We remain convinced that the only solution to the country’s problems is the immediate and unconditional departure of Mugabe from office. He must go now. He is a colossal failure and the sooner we are rid of him the better,” Chidziva said.

Last year, Chidziva gave Zanu PF and the government a torrid time after he led many successful protests.

He said yesterday that while they would continue with their mass actions going forward, he was also urging all Zimbabweans, particularly the youths, to work to redefine their future by registering to vote in next year’s polls.

“After 2018, Zanu PF must be history. It’s time for us youths and all Zimbabweans to define our future by registering to vote,” Chidziva said.

And with the country’s political and economic rot continuing to escalate at an alarming rate, as Zimbabwe hurtles towards the make-or-break 2018 national polls, Tsvangirai says despairing citizens should remain calm but vigilant — “comforted by the knowledge that victory is certain”.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News at the weekend, the buoyant and fit-again Tsvangirai also reassured edgy Zimbabweans that it was a matter of time before the planned opposition grand alliance — to take on the warring ruling Zanu PF in next year’s elections — was knit together.

“When we began this journey (struggle for a better Zimbabwe) almost two decades ago, we always knew it would be difficult and challenging, requiring much hard work and sacrifice.

“The good news is that it’s not much longer to go now and long-suffering Zimbabweans will soon get the change that they have long wanted. Indeed, victory has never been more certain than it is today.

“I call on all Zimbabweans to remain calm, but vigilant as our collective political and economic pain grows because of Zanu PF’s thuggery and misrule. Our struggle is not in vain and it’s definitely not long to go now,” the confident Tsvangirai said.

The former trade union leader — the only man to beat Mugabe in an election hands down, in 2008 — spoke after he savaged the government last Thursday for arresting activist preacher Evan Mawarire, warning that this was the beginning of a crackdown by panicking authorities on fed-up citizens ahead of the crunch 2018 national polls.

“The callous arrest in broad daylight of … Mawarire came as no surprise to those of us who have always known that a leopard remains faithful to its spots.

“This is vintage Zanu PF, and the message coming out of this arrest is that Zanu PF will go for broke in the campaign ahead of the next election. The world must brace for impunity and violence against the innocent citizens of our country.

“I condemn in the strongest of terms the impunity against an innocent citizen of Zimbabwe who has committed no crime. If the regime thinks this arrest will cow the people of this country, then we have news for them,” Tsvangirai said then.

“Zimbabweans will not be intimidated and they will fight for a truly free and fair election in which their voice will count.

“What happened at the Harare International Airport must send a chilling message, particularly to those in the region and in the broader international community who thought Zanu PF was capable of reform.

“There cannot be reform without reformers and this impunity is a reflection of the true character of Zanu PF. However, we have always been a heroic people and we shall not be cowed,” he added.

Tsvangirai also said former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who now leads the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), had already proved to be a significant opposition player — and that the two would work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu PF from power next year.

“We know what Mujuru brings to the table and she knows what we offer, so those who say that a coalition is coming are not far off the mark,” he said.

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