Zimbabwe’s main opposition alliance has called off plans to hold a mock inauguration to name its leader as the country’s president after public gatherings were banned due to a cholera outbreak.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had planned the Saturday event to highlight its claims that Nelson Chamisa – and not President Emmerson Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party – was the rightful winner of a July election.
“It is clear that the government is abusing the cholera epidemic for political purposes and puts into serious doubt that the ban of our commemoration event was out of genuine concern,” Jacob Mafume, MDC spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday.
“The anniversary rally will go ahead at a later date to be advised and the venue will remain the same, Gwanzura stadium,” the MDC official said.
The mock swearing-in was set to coincide with the MDC’s 19th-anniversary rally near Glenview in the capital, Harare, the epicentre of the cholera outbreak which has claimed 25 lives.
Mnangagwa narrowly exceeded the 50 percent threshold required to secure an outright victory in the July 30 election, the first without long-time ruler Robert Mugabe on the ballot.
The MDC alleged fraud but Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court unanimously dismissed the opposition alliance’s bid to annul the results.
The cholera outbreak has prompted the health ministry to declare an emergency in Harare after at least 3,000 cases were reported.
The disease has since spread to other urban and rural areas in five of the country’s 10 provinces.
Cholera outbreaks are common in Zimbabwe’s cities as authorities struggle to provide potable water and sanitation facilities.
The country suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2008 when 4,000 people died and at least 100,000 people fell ill.