By Mugove Tafirenyika and Tendai Kamhungira
Mass protests have been lined up in the New Year as public disenchantment against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration continues to grow.
Yesterday, the main opposition party led by Nelson Chamisa revealed that it will engage in mass protests this month to force Mnangagwa out of power ostensibly because he has failed to stabilise the country’s economy.
Amos Chibaya, the MDC’s organising secretary, said the party will organise its supporters to march to State House in protests modelled along the Arab Spring which toppled dictators in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.
“2019 is the year that we are going to send Mnangagwa packing. This month, unlike before, we are not going to toyi-toyi around the streets but straight to State House because that is where the person who stole our vote resides,” he told the Daily News yesterday.
“We have a crisis of legitimacy in the country and we seek to correct that by installing the person who won the July 30, 2018 elections and that person is Chamisa.
People are suffering including, teachers, doctors, and ordinary Zimbabweans and we cannot continue like that when we all know the root cause of our suffering…”
The MDC has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the legitimate president of the Republic despite a Constitutional Court (Con-Court) ruling last year to the contrary.
Mnangagwa rose to power in 2017 following a de facto military coup that toppled long time ruler Robert Mugabe and subsequently won the July 30 elections after he garnered 50, 6 percent of the vote against Chamisa’s 44, 3 percent.
Chamisa unsuccessfully lodged a Con-Court application, challenging the poll outcome, which was dismissed by the full bench with costs.
To make matters worse, teachers will also be taking to the streets as early as next week to demand better working conditions including being paid in United States dollars.
Yesterday, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) called for a civil service-wide strike and invited is members to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices on Monday next week to “protest against austerity”.
“Our members are agitated … they want the government to pay their salaries in foreign currency. The cost of living has increased, and civil servants’ salaries have lost value three-fold in 2018.
“We therefore want salaries to be paid in foreign currency considering that most service providers now prefer payment for services in foreign currency,” Artuz said.
Strike calls by the MDC and Artuz come as the country is dogged by a myriad of challenges that have seen medical doctors downing their tools for over a month now.
Doctors are currently on strike demanding to be paid in US dollars as well as provision of adequate drugs and other equipment in the country’s hospitals and clinics.
The crisis in the health delivery system has reached calamitous proportions with the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) announcing that their negotiations with government have not yielded positive results hence their action continues unabated.
“We wish our members, members of the public and all stakeholders a happy new year. It is with sadness that we announce that no consensus has been reached in our negotiations with @MoHCCZim, and the industrial action continues whilst we await fair, honest and sensible negotiations,” ZHDA said on Twitter yesterday.
This also comes as recently-graduated doctors have thwarted government efforts to use them to replace the striking doctors. They said they are behind the industrial action by their seniors — effectively snubbing attempts by government to hire them as replacements.
In a letter addressed to the Health Services Board, the doctors said they were not prepared to be used as cover and instead called for dialogue between the striking doctors and their employer.
“We are greatly disturbed by the ministry’s efforts to undermine the genuine grievances raised by our fellow doctors and the move to try and recruit us to cover the gap created. We want to categorically state that we are in full support of our senior colleagues and believe in dialogue rather than duress,” they said.
As if that is not enough pressure for Mnangagwa’s administration, hospital pharmacists have also backed the doctors’ action as well as demanding to be paid in US dollars.
In a statement the Zimbabwe Association of Hospital Pharmacists demanded that government resolves the doctors’ issue as a matter of urgency as they could not work properly without them.
The pharmacists said the health care system comprises a multidisciplinary team reliant on one another for the provision of quality service and care.
“The association is thereby in support of the doctors’ demand for meaningful remuneration and provision of medical sundries and medicine in public health care facilities for effective care for our patients,” the pharmacists said.
This is all happening at a time when the government is battling a failing economy characterised by inflation, fuel shortages, foreign currency shortages and serious price increases against eroded bank balances and salaries. Daily News