MDC Demo: NPRC tells political parties to restrain supporters
Harare,(New Ziana) – The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) on Sunday called for peace during planned streets protests by the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Friday.
The Commission was set up in terms of Section 251 of the Constitution and is specifically tasked with ensuring post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation and to develop programmes to promote national healing, peace and unity.
The MDC last week gave notice to the police that it would demonstrate against government and hand in a petition calling “for a resolution of the current challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe.”
The opposition gave a list of 12 issues which it said characterised a “national crisis,” among them corruption, unemployment, power, fuel, cash and drug shortages and high cost of living.
Acknowledging the right of every Zimbabwean to demonstrate and hand out petitions, the NPRC said the MDC as well as other political parties, especially the ruling Zanu PF, must restrain their supporters from violent confrontations during the demonstration set for August 16.
“The NPRC recognises the Constitutional right of persons and institutions to demonstrate and present petitions as long as these rights are expressed peacefully,” Commission said.
“To this end, the Commission calls upon the leadership of the MDC to implore their members to exercise restraint and to put in place strategies and plans to ensure that the demonstrations do not degenerate into violent conflict.”
The last two demonstrations, which the opposition was linked to – in August 2018 and early January 2019 – led to serious violence which resulted a combined death of over 10 people, injuries to scores of others and destruction of millions worth of property.
President Mnangagwa, in a state of the nation address delivered last Friday in commemoration of his first anniversary in office since the July 2018 elections, said he was open to dialogue with all Zimbabweans.
In the same address, the Zimbabwean leader acknowledged the economic difficulties faced by the citizenry in the first year of his rule, stressing that they were as a result of “painful but necessary reforms” that government had to undertake to set a strong foundation for a successful economic rebirth after years of neglect.
“It has not been easy, but with your collective resolve and support, good ground worth celebrating has been covered. Above all, a solid foundation has been laid for more and greater gains in the future,” he said.
His administration has also championed a political dialogue process among parties that contested in last year’s elections, which the MDC has snubbed, challenging President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
The NPRC said while conflict was inevitable in society, “parties can achieve win-win solutions if they actively work towards dialoguing with each other.”
The Commission said it had held wide consultations across the country “and Zimbabweans in general, are in agreement that the government of Zimbabwe has to work quickly to address economic challenges being faced as they are a potential trigger for retrogressive conflicts.”
Meanwhile, the NPRC urged the police to effectively play its role by ensuring law and order during the August 16 demonstrations, protecting the rights of all individuals including those who are not interested in taking part in the protest and will be going about their business.
The police is yet to officially respond to the MDC announcement, but has acknowledged receipt of the notification for the march.
Senior MDC officials have however said the demonstration will go ahead regardless of what the police will say.