Harare – Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change has called for national protests in the southern African country to demand key electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 polls.
The former Zimbabwean prime ministers told a news conference on Wednesday that the opposition was ready to defeat President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party in elections due next year but the electoral playing field was not evenly balanced.
Without specifying the exact date of the protests, Tsvangirai said the mass action would be conducted "soon".
Said Tsvangirai: "The MDC national executive today resolved to embark on a national action soon to force Mugabe and his illegitimate government to implement key democratic reforms ahead of next year’s elections."
"We want the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] to be truly independent. It must not only be said to be independent but it must act independently."
Last year, Zimbabwean police crushed protests organised by social movements such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka and arrested hundreds of protesters in what the opposition and human rights activists described as "dragnet arrests". Some of those arrested are still facing charges in the courts.
Tsvangirai also demanded a new voters’ roll before the next elections.
"We want ZEC to ensure that a new voters’ roll is put in place in line with the new constitution and we want the government to adhere to the constitution in its entirety to ensure that there is rule of law in the country," added the former premier.
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau could not be reached for comment as she was not answering her mobile phone.