Harare – Zimbabwe's opposition parties under the banner National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera) have accused the ruling Zanu-PF government of having started "a process of rigging the upcoming 2018 elections".
According to New Zimbabwe, the chairperson of the opposition collective Didymus Mutasa said that the ban on protests in the southern country was proof that the government was panicking and would eventually rig the elections.
The former ally of President Robert Mugabe, who is now spokesperson of the Zimbabwe People First party said that there was no hope for free and fair elections in 2018.
"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 on 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," Mutasa was quoted saying.
Mass anti-government demonstrations
But, local government minister and Zanu-PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere told the opposition parties to bring their concerns to the country’s national assembly, NewsDay reported.
Kasukuwere further claimed that the opposition was scared of the elections.
"How can Mutasa say that now when he was minister and MP on the strength of the electoral laws he wants changed today? Why did he not say anything at that time," Kasukuwere was quoted as saying.
Nera's claims came just a few days before mass anti-government demonstrations planned for Saturday.
Opposition parties vowed to stage mass protests to press for electoral reforms, and were unfazed by Mugabe's threat to increase a crackdown on organisers of anti-government protests.
Mugabe on Monday reportedly described the almost daily protests in his country as a "nuisance that would soon be crushed".
The long-time leader further warned that opposition parties and the pressure groups that were calling for his resignation should not cry foul when his government reiterated with a strong hand.