President Tsvangirai continued his listening tour in Mutoko and Murehwa in Mashonaland East province, where fear and intimidation continue to be the major factors gripping communities.
Pastors, chiefs, headmen, village heads, war veterans, women and ordinary villagers all spoke to endemic fear and intimidation being orchestrated by Zanu PF. Since the run-off violence of 2008, Zanu PF continues to emasculate communities, particularly chiefs and headmen, coercing them to frog-march people to vote for Zanu PF in the next election.
The community leaders said the national challenge was to unlock the fear planted in the villages and local areas where people were not free to express themselves.
The opinion leaders told President Tsvangirai that there must be a national clarion call to urge President Mugabe not to contest the next election. At the ripe age of 94, it is impossible for the nonagenarian to come up with any new ideas to rescue the country from the current abyss.
One war veteran bemoaned the fact that the war of liberation had brought independence but not freedom. Independence came alone, unclothed with the requisite freedoms for which so many Zimbabweans died.
In his response to the various inputs, President Tsvangirai told the opinion leaders that 2018 provided everyone with an opportunity to vote in a new government that would address their concerns. He assured war veterans and ex-detainees that the new government treasured their contribution and would address all their concerns. The agenda of the MDC, he said, was to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle, where political independence had come without freedoms.
President Tsvangirai said the new dispensation would create an inclusive society that would leave no one behind.
The community leaders in Mash East said they were behind the proposed alliance, on condition it was led by tried and tested leaders and that it was able to rally the nation towards change.
The underlying factor in Mash East is endemic fear and, as one pastor told President Tsvangirai, fear is a demon that needs to be exorcised ahead of the next election.
Tomorrow, the people's leader rounds up his tour of the province with an address to the party's provincial assembly in Marondera. From Mash East, President Tsvangirai will on Wednesday take his listening tour to Mashonaland Central.
Presidential Spokesperson and Director of Communications