Nelson Chamisa, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC, addresses his supporters following a protest march in Harare against the decline in the country’s economy on Thursday. Picture: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP
Nelson Chamisa, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC, addresses his supporters following a protest march in Harare against the decline in the country’s economy on Thursday. Picture: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has called on the SA Development Community (SADC) and the AU to help Zimbabwe solve its economic and political challenges.

Addressing thousands of opposition supporters demonstrating against growing hardships, Chamisa said on Thursday that the disputed July 30 poll was the root cause of the country’s problems.

The march was the first street demonstration to be held by the opposition since the August 1 post-election protests that culminated in a military crackdown which left six dead.

The march in Harare’s central business district was conducted peacefully amid high tensions in the country.

Hundreds of police officers were deployed from early morning until evening to prevent violence.

Since the July 30 election, which many had hoped would lay the foundations for an economic recovery, inflation has jumped into double digits and there is an acute shortage of basic goods and foreign currency for imports.

Chamisa has disputed the election results branding President Emmerson Mnangagwa an illegitimate leader, while international missions that observed the poll have cast aspersions on its credibility. 

“We have written a petition to our parliament, SADC and the AU. We are calling these organs to assist in resolving the problems bedevilling this country. I will be meeting the president of Namibia Hage Geingob to articulate to him the issues that are happening in this country.”

Geingob is the SADC’s current chair.

“I will also be meeting the AU’s chair Paul Kagame to do the same thing,” he added.

“The crisis of facing Zimbabwe is the legitimacy crisis, contestation over who was voted by the people. This petition speaks about reloading democracy, rule of law and peace in Zimbabwe.”

Chamisa’s party also presented a petition to parliament, demanding dialogue with Mnangagwa.

Other demands made by the opposition include scrapping the controversial bond note surrogate currency which the government has maintained has a one-to-one ratio but trades for far less on the popular parallel market, as well as a review of punitive tax tariffs.

The petition also called on the government to address shortages of basic commodities, job losses and poor social service delivery.

The march came as a fresh cholera outbreak this week killed four people in the northern part of the country while the number of people infected with the disease rose to almost 100.

Also, motorists queued for hours as fuel pumps ran dry, with many filling stations in Harare empty as the country suffered its second fuel crisis in just over a month.