"Mobilise the masses, forget SADC" – Makumbe tells Tsvangirai

HARARE – Professor John Makumbe says Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai must not put faith in SADC but instead revive demonstrations led by his supporters to force President Robert Mugabe to respect the political agreement which brought the unity government.\r\n

Makumbe said the people of Zimbabwe have the power to test Mugabe and his allies in Zanu PF to the limit as happened in March 2007.

“The MDC and Tsvangirai must focus on what the people of Zimbabwe can do and this demands mass mobilisation of people in preparation for elections and demonstrations that can force the intervention of the international community,” said Makumbe.

He said SADC mediation has not produced  the desired results as evidenced by the continued violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by Mugabe against the letter and spirit of the pact which was brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

“To be where we are today, in an inclusive government, it was a result of mass mobilisation of Zimbabweans for a local event which provoked the strongest repression from Mugabe, but we know that this action forced SADC intervention.

“This can be done locally. There is no need for taking too much time trying to engage SADC when people can demand change and show this by demonstrating against Mugabe and his repressive machinery,” Makumbe told the Daily News.

Tsvangirai and leaders of the civic society on  11 March 2007, organised prayer marches in Highfield under the banner of Save Zimbabwe but the event was violently broken up by police and armed soldiers.

Both Tsvangirai and deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were viciously attacked by security agents at Machipisa Shopping Centre before they were thrown into custody.

Among those savagely assaulted on that fateful day were Tendai Biti, Lovemore Madhuku, Sekai Holland, Grace Kwinjeh and other influential civic society leaders.

Former ZBC cameraman Edward Chikomba who filmed the assaults was abducted by five gunmen at his Glen View home and found murdered near Mapinga, Banket, days later.

MDC supporter, Gift Tandare, a cobbler by profession was shot and killed during the demonstrations.

Tsvangirai’s assault and subsequent arrest forced an emergency meeting by SADC which forced a raft of electoral changes and inter party dialogue in the run up to  the 2008 elections.

“Tsvangirai must organise people to demonstrate against unilateralism.

He can continue engaging SADC but he must not forget that the  real work must be done here. Mass mobilisation is his biggest option at the moment,” said Makumbe.

Makumbe’s remarks come in the wake of  the aborted SADC organ on Defence and Security  meeting which was supposed to deliberate on the deteriorating political environment in Zimbabwe which both Tsvangirai and Mutambara blame on Mugabe.

Both formations of the MDC were left fuming after the organ’s chairman, Zambian President Rupiah Banda and Mozambican leader Armando Gebuza failed to attend the meeting in Gaborone, Botswana.

According to reports, Banda had an engagement in Brazil and could not make the meeting on time, leaving both Tsvangirai and Mutambara seething at the regional body which had invited them to the ‘summit’.

Both leaders  accused SADC of shortchanging them and not treating the Zimbabwe situation with  the urgency  that it deserves. – Daily News