Riding high: MDC supporters arrive at Rudhaka stadium for the launch of the party’s manifesto. P
Along the way to Marondera's Rudhaka Stadium, where the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) launched its manifesto at the weekend, there were more police stop-and-search roadblocks than was the case two days earlier when Zanu-PF unveiled its own poll blueprint in Harare.
But the party's supporters and members were undeterred. Some had travelled 700km to attend the official start of the campaign to dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power.
Marondera, the usually sleepy capital of Mashonaland East, was turned into a robust business centre and retailers enjoyed the roaring business the rally brought.
At the stadium, we each received a free red party T-shirt and a red card – a symbol to show Mugabe that he is on his way out. Bottled water branded "Save water" with Morgan Tsvangirai's picture was dished out.
Sporting his trademark red party regalia, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai sent the crowd into a wild frenzy when he arrived at the stadium.
Party youths belted out revolutionary songs like Ndikasungwa uchengete vana (If I'm arrested take care of my children), a song that depicts how insecure the movement still feels after the last poll, where it says more than 200 of its members died in election-related violence.
Victory is 'certain'
Tsvangirai told his supporters that despite the setback, victory was certain. He added that over the past four years in government, the party had pushed for reforms, but had faced huge resistance from Zanu-PF.
He said Zanu-PF was attempting to rig the elections, but the MDC had informers in place who were scuppering the plans.
"We are faced with an election without reforms and against a leopard that has remained faithful to its spots, but our faith in God and our collective desire for real transformation will make us triumph," he said.
MDC Women's Assembly secretary and co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone also said Zanu-PF was planning to rig the polls.
She said Mugabe had claimed that 55 000 people had voted in its primary elections in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, despite the fact that fewer people lived there according to census figures.
Tsvangirai then launched the manifesto that would be the blueprint for his government should he win.
Promises, and more promises
That manifesto is largely anchored on job creation, and promises a million jobs by 2018.
In five years, the MDC promises to promote integration with regional and global business markets, create a friendly environment for both domestic and foreign investors and manage the country's foreign debt.
On the disputed land issue, the party says it will ensure equitable access to land for all, irrespective of their race.
It also says it will provide security of tenure, restore title deeds and a land market, establish a land commission, enforce the one-household one-farm policy and conduct periodic land audits.
It says it will manage land disputes and regulate land acquisition, and will pay full and adequate compensation for land acquisition. It did not say where it will get money for that compensation.
On security, the party says it will disband the Joint Operations Command and replace it with an accountable National Security Council.
It says it will also establish and enforce a code of conduct for all security services and put into place a merit-based promotion system.
There are more promises: a new national prosecuting authority and attorney general; the repeal of laws such as the Public Order and Security Act; the promotion of media self-regulation; the freeing of airwaves to allow more radio stations and TV channels; and the initiation of a programme for the return of refugees.