By Anna Chibamu
Sep. 15, 2016 (All Africa Global Media) — OPPOSITION coalition spokesman Didymus Mutasa has claimed that President Robert Mugabe is already working to rig the 2018 elections and vowed that Saturday’s protest will go ahead despite a police ban against demonstrations in Harare.
Mutasa, convenor of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), told reporters in the capital Wednesday that the latest ban against protests “represents a de-facto state of emergency and a willingness by this regime to rig the next election.”
The former presidential affairs minister and ruling Zanu PF party secretary for administration said there was little prospect the next elections would be credible.
“It is trite for anyone to expect a credible election in 2018 when genuine and constitutional demands for electoral reform are met with police brutality and weekly bans of protests that are allowed by the constitution.
“In other words, the brutality itself is tantamount to a rigging of the next election well in advance,” he said.
The country has lately been rocked by demonstrations as Zimbabweans protest against a deepening economic crisis, with many demanding President Mugabe’s resignation.
The opposition has also taken to the streets to press for electoral reforms ahead of the key 2018 vote. But the demonstrations have been brutally crushed by the regime with the police using water cannon, tear gas and truncheons to disperse protestors.
A month-long ban against protests in Harare has also been imposed and takes effect on Friday ahead of a planned demonstration by NERA the following day.
Mutasa however said they remained resolute and vowed to continue with “the constitutional protests for far-reaching electoral reforms”.
Also according to him, the nationwide demonstrations slated for Saturday, will continue as planned “despite the illegal police bans”.
“Our message to the people of Zimbabwe is that they must come out in large numbers in the various towns and districts across the country to express in a loud way the national demand for a truly credible election in 2018,” he said.
“This ban is illegal and will not in any way stand in the way of what is permissible under the new Constitution written and endorsed by the people themselves.”
The former security minister and top Mugabe defender accused the 92-year-old leader of using resorting to methods perfected by the pre-independence settler colonial regimes.
“It is ironic that the police are behaving with the same brutality as the British South Africa Police, the colonial outfit that repressed and oppressed the people of this country for many years,” he said.
“This has become worse than Rhodesia, and the simple crime of the people of this country is that they have dared to express themselves.
He added: “As we have stated before, we are where we are as a nation because of a disputed election that bred an illegitimate outcome.
We will not relent in our quest to demand a credible election and that is why Saturday’s action is continuing as planned.”
Copyright New Zimbabwe.