MDC (Alliance) are expecting their demonstration pencilled for the 16th of August to be the mother-of all-demonstrations in their quest for both political power and economic solutions to the country’s crisis.
The demonstration which stems from the disputed 2018 Presidential election results and economic meltdown is supposed to put pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to among other things dialogue with Nelson Chamisa.
This is not the first demonstration by the opposition party, but shall be the first in a series of peaceful protests that have been promised by MDC.
However, questions can be asked and have been asked before, as to whether these demos are worth the effort, do they really bring any form of change or is it not just a case of using the same formulae over and over again whilst anticipating a different outcome?
Although peaceful demonstrations and handing in of petitions such as the one being promised by MDC are catered for by Section 59 of the Zimbabwe Constitution, there is generally a school of thought that believes they are not powerful enough to mount pressure on the government to pull the country out of the prevailing economic abattoir.
Recently, Malawian citizens held a demonstration over disputed election results; they were committed to staying at the Parliament doorstep overnight and returning to resume demonstrations the next day.
These demos in Malawi were supposed to be peaceful but later turned violent with some looting eventually taking place and so how different will the MDC demo be?
As the country prepares for the demos on the 16th here are some lessons that MDC can draw from the recent Malawi demo and from elsewhere as well:
- Malawians committed to an all-night vigil outside Parliament something that maybe we can adopt here, instead of marching from 10 am to 4 pm then going back home to empty plates and near homelessness.
- The agenda must be clear to the protesters from the onset to avoid anything going off-script. There is a need to avoid violence and looting at all costs to avoid a repeat of the January incident.
- The MDC leadership should be present throughout the demonstration instead of showing face for a few minutes and disappearing. Their presence can go a long way in ensuring a violent-free demonstration which they are promising as they are the only people who can speak sense to their supporters.