THE ruling Zanu PF party yesterday mentioned it will deal harshly with the deliberate protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government on July 31, evoking reminiscences of killings by the military of civilians in 2018 and January last year.
Six civilians were shot dead in the post-election violence on August 1, 2018, while human rights groups say 17 people were killed by security agents in the course of the protests against an increase in the price of fuel in January last year.
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa advised journalists after a politburo meeting that anybody protesting ought to concentrate on the danger.
“We have noted social media platforms to plan and organise violent protests and overthrow a constitutionally elected government,” he mentioned.
“Let me say to (MDC Alliance chief Nelson) Chamisa and those that are calling for demonstrations on July 31, what occurred (protesting) on August 1, 2018 will not happen again, what happened on January 16, 2019 will not occur once more.
“We need to send this warning loud and clear to Chamisa that whatever you’re threatening on July 31, we are saying, come to the front and face the danger.”
Zimbabweans have seen their incomes and financial savings being eroded by rising inflation — for the second time in a decade — and accuse Mnangagwa of failing to live up to his pre-election promise to revive the financial system and of returning to the darkish days under his predecessor Robert Mugabe through the use of the army to crush dissent.
Mnangagwa promised a clean break from the Mugabe period, who was eliminated by his army chiefs in November 2017, however is accused of sending the military to conduct evening raids, and beating suspected opposition activists within the townships in previous protests.
Opposition Transform Zimbabwe president Jacob Ngarivhume is leading the campaign, which has been endorsed by a number of opposition leaders together with Chamisa.
“To Chamisa, we are saying don’t be a coward, you are always never found in front. If you do whatever you are threatening, come to front and face the dangers,” Chinamasa challenged.
“Our cadres are there to tackle anyone who assaults the government. Zanu PF members will have the right to defend our homes, people and properties. He should not be cowardly, let him come in front and face it.”
He added: “We thank the organisers of the July 31 protests for warning us because as Zanu PF, we have been sleeping with all eyes closed, however now, we are going to sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.”
Addressing the politburo, Mnangagwa warned of the potential tightening of lockdown measures in what observers say was a move aimed at foiling the protests.
“Though there’s a visible spike in the number of positive cases, largely due to returnees, we shall continue to strengthen our preventive measures as well as our testing and contact tracing capacity,” Mnangagwa said.
“I urge the party (Zanu PF) to continue to be in the forefront of raising the awareness levels in our communities of the dangers of this pandemic. The recent rapid spike of infections requires that we make another review of the lockdown of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.”
Chinamasa additionally claimed there was weaponisation of social media to vilify Mnangagwa and his family. He insisted schools would reopen on July 28.