AS debate rages in the MDC on whether or not to participate in next year’s parliamentary election, the party’s youth wing has resolved to stage protests demanding electoral reforms.
Opposition MDC national youth chairman Nelson Chamisa revealed in an interview on Wednesday that the youth league’s national executive had at a recent meeting endorsed party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s position calling for electoral reforms.
Chamisa said the push for electoral amendments could only be done through “democratic means of protest” considering the hard-line stance of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in engaging the opposition.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said there would be no electoral amendments ahead of the poll scheduled for March. Chinamasa said elections would be held under the current system and alleged that the MDC feared defeat.
Tsvangirai has said although consultation in the party continues over the issue of next year’s election, the party position is to demand electoral amendments. He said the MDC would contest the election only under a set of minimum conditions that could guarantee a free and fair election.
“We subscribe to the party position that we should contest next year’s election but only after amendments to the electoral system that create minimum conditions for a free and fair election,” Chamisa said.
“But it is incumbent upon us as the youth movement in the party to actively campaign for electoral amendments. We have therefore resolved to stage, starting soon, peaceful protests until the regime agrees to amendments.”
The Kuwadzana legislator said the youth league would have to defy repressive laws designed to close the democratic space.
“Our challenge is to disobey the instruments of repression meant to close the democratic space and to enable Zanu PF to rig elections. We have to go the (Lovemore NCA chairman) Madhuku way of disobeying laws such as Posa and engage the regime head-on,” he said.
“The masses are agitated and disillusioned,” Chamisa said. “We have to make Mugabe shift his position.”
Chamisa, who was on a tour of neighbouring countries recently, said the MDC youth wing had been mobilising members and colleagues in Sadc countries.
“We are coordinating international pressure and have already planned to have demonstrations staged in countries such as South Africa and Botswana simultaneously with our own protests in order to engage regional leaders in this democratic struggle,” he said.