HARARE-In Zimbabwe, the opposition formed two new alliances in the past 24 hours to challenge the country’s longtime leader President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 polls.
Zimbabwe’s top opposition leaders, former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru, signed a coalition agreement late Wednesday.
Tsvangirai brings with him a large, well-established opposition party, while Mujuru, a former top Mugabe ally, brings with her defectors from the ruling Zanu-PF.
Tsvangirai spoke at the signing, but didn’t say who would be the coalition flag bearer in next year’s presidential race.
“We shall drive a comprehensive democratization and transformation agenda,” he said. “Similar arrangements shall be entered into with other political formations, and we will inform you as it happens.”
Tsvangirai signed another agreement Thursday with a fellow longtime opposition leader, Welshman Ncube, healing a 10-year rift between the two men.
Meanwhile, civil society activist and Christian pastor, Evan Mawarire, the leader of the country’s #ThisFlag movement, has been called to appear Friday in Harare Magistrate Court.
Mawarire led several anti-government protests in 2016, calling for action on human rights abuses and the worsening economy. Mawarire was arrested in January, accused of subversion and insulting the national flag.
On Thursday, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s regional director for southern Africa, said the state should drop all charges.
“The Zimbabwean authorities want to make an example out of Pastor Evan Mawarire to send a clear message to anyone who dares dissent,” Muchena said.
Muchena said the government is using the criminal justice system to harass and silence peaceful activists.
The acting prosecutor general, Ray Goba, dismissed allegations of persecution at Mawarire’s last court appearance in February, saying the courts would settle the matter.