HARARE- Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has rallied thousands of supporters including some who fought in the 1970’s independence war in response to harsh criticism he received last week from a previously loyal group of veterans.
Thousands gathered at the headquarters of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital, Harare, to show support for the 92-year-old Mugabe, who has faced growing dissent in recent weeks.
Youth body calls for electoral head resignation
Meanwhile, the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) Youth Forum held a peaceful march to Parliament where they handed over a petition calling for the immediate resignation of the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Rita Makarau.
One of the police officers said he had been instructed by the Officer Commanding Harare District police to block them as their demonstration had not been cleared.
An unidentified parliamentary official tried to reason with the police to allow at least two of the youth leaders to enter the building and hand over the petition but the officer would not. The officer insisted that the youths were not allowed inside.
In the petition, the NERA youths demanded that independent personnel be appointed to run the ZEC Secretariat, arguing that by virtue of being the chairperson of the Judiciary Services Commission, Makarau was compromised in her position as ZEC chairperson.
“We demand that the ZEC secretariat be run by competent, non-partisan and proficient personnel transparently. Specifically, we demand the de-militarisation and de-politicisation of ZEC through the appointment of commissioners in a public and transparent manner and the removal of military personnel from positions of influence,” read part of the petition.
Opening of voter registration
The youths called for the immediate opening of the voter registration exercise under the supervision of ZEC and sought clarity on whether or not the country was going to use the biometric voting system come 2018.
“If so, we demand to know how it is going to be implemented, by whom, when and how the monitoring and evaluation would be done. ZEC must submit to parliament a detailed action plan for the 2018 elections,” they said.
Parliament, the youths said, should play its supervisory role over an independent electoral body as provided for in the Constitution, adding that ZEC should demonstrate its capacity to run free and fair elections that would be credible.