MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) — Zimbabwe’s main opposition party decided during a congressional session yesterday to hold nationwide rallies with demands of systemic reforms from long-ruling President Robert Mugabe.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held a congress Saturday, which reelected ex-PM Morgan Tsvangirai as party leader, and concluded that the country is in need of electoral reform, changes in media legislation and a review of security practices. Tsvangirai also said this was the last congressional session the MDC would hold as the opposition, clearly expressing his intent to acquire political power in the near future.
"The party will embark on peaceful and constitutional demonstrations and other forms of expression around the issues to force the regime of Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU PF party to accept the need for reforms in the following but not limited to the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC), media, security sector, [and] implementation of the Constitution," the MDC said in a statement.
In last year’s national election Tsvangirai and MDC had lost to President Mugabe’s party due to alleged massive fraud, as claimed by the opposition. Mugabe has been President since 1988, and at least twice his government has been accused of immense violence, coercion and fraud that accompanied the electoral process in 2008 and 2013.
The opposition "will force the government of Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table and build consensus on the need for a timetable towards a free and fair election and return to legitimacy," the party statement reads.
The MDC congress also agreed upon economic, political and social policies, having said that there is a “deepening economic crisis bedeviling the country”, and a “decline in education standards”, further emphasizing that “the continued ZANU PF centralization policy on local government … deprives citizens of their rights”. In response to these challenges, Tsvangirai’s party declared that “the MDC T stands for creating a social market economy, with a strong social bias towards the poor and marginalized” as national unemployment is roughly 80%. The MDC congress also expressed its intention to “establish normal relations with all countries and multinational organizations that are beneficial to Zimbabwe’s strategic interests.”
"We have to be brave, we have to take action," Tsvangirai said, urging MDC supporters to actively participate in the upcoming street demonstrations.
ZANU PF has been in power for 34 years and has failed to improve living standards in the impoverished nation. The bloated inefficient state apparatus, grotesque inflation and widespread corruption are the most internationally publicized features of today’s Zimbabwe. The nation’s external debt amounts to more than $10 bn, while the average consumer purchasing capacity is below poverty line. Power outages are common, and health and education systems exist mostly on paper. Robert Mugabe’s government plan for economic reform, announced in December 2013, would require funding of $27 bn, however, it is impossible to implement such changes without international investment as the national budget amounts to a mere $4bn. Moreover, the Mugabe government’s erratic policies have exacerbated the situation, increasingly isolating Zimbabwe, which keeps international money far outside its borders.