For at least the second time this year, Finance minister Tendai Biti has been besieged by rowdy crowds who, other than exposing themselves as shameless partisan hoodlums, are a nondescript lot without any professional identity.
Not a single professional labour union has claimed association with this group calling itself war veterans and claiming to be fighting for the betterment of everyone else in Zimbabwe.
There is no war veterans’ body that has claimed responsibility for Monday’s disgraceful display at Biti’s office and a majority of the rabble rousers were clearly far younger than the youngest veteran of the war of liberation could possibly be.
Where then and by whom could these people have been organised to stage the Monday and other previous demonstrations at Biti’s office?
The only logical guess point would be a deliberate plot at a sustained assault on the person of Minister Biti, with a bigger objective of causing problems in the inclusive government.
Civil servants, on whose behalf the louts claimed to be protesting, are represented in wage negotiations by Tendai Chikowore’s Apex Council, a conglomeration of government labour bodies whose members are far better positioned to deal with the issue of government salaries than a handful of unemployed political thugs.
The people who held Minister Biti hostage at his offices are nothing more than hired political troops, out to fight Biti and his party, seeking to ride on the back of civil servants’ noble cause. Obviously they did not hope to achieve anything to do with civil servants salaries. This is all about political mileage.
War veterans, the partisan lot that has declared itself a campaign tool of Zanu PF, is known for such unheard of stunts as storming, of all places, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe in session, jumping on top of the judges’ bench, singing and threatening the judiciary.
These are the characters that our police, vigilant as we know them, allowed to march the streets and besiege a government minister’s offices.
The police always say no demonstrations or rallies or any such gatherings can take place without their clearance.
So did the police, knowing the behavior of our so-called war veterans – and the emotive issue they have taken into their own hands – give them the green light to do as they did? According to reports, “All police spokespersons in Harare – Wayne Bvudzijena, Andrew Phiri and James Sabau – said they were unaware of the gathering.”
If the police did not sanction this demonstration, why then were the thugs not arrested? Perhaps people are expected to accept that the police did not see them as they marched to the minister’s office and thereafter when they besieged his office where they allegedly manhandled a security guard as they shouted their demands for the minister to “resign immediately” because “No one is allowed to defy the President” and because “Biti represents the West”.
It is clear as daylight the behaviour of these thugs cannot change the position of the government on civil servants’ salaries. If an increment is going to come, it is not going to come because Minister Biti has been threatened or harmed as is the“war vets’” obvious intent.
It is also inconceivable that Minister Biti, or any other minister for that matter, would have presented themselves to this rowdy crowd to explain the intricate matter of the country’s income, the national wage bill and the feasibility of its sustenance.
But like we have indicated already, this was not about civil servants’ salaries at all, but cheap political gimmickry.
Our police force should not allow its integrity to be tainted by such senseless acts of thuggery that achieve nothing.