Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday said State security agents had staged a de facto coup over civilian authority and warned the country risked sliding back to the bloody 2008 anarchy if the situation was not addressed urgently.
The Premier’s concerns came a day after violence rocked Harare following clashes involving the police, vendors and MDC-T activists.
Ironically, the pandemonium occurred a few hours after Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe had met and agreed to put an end to violence, it has emerged, giving credence to claims that the inclusive government was under threat.
“The State security agents have instituted a coup over civilian authority and they are now above the law to the extent of disrupting government programmes and assaulting civilians with impunity,” he said.
“ . . . The violence we are witnessing is State-sponsored and State-driven. It is being championed by a few fascist leaders who want to reverse the little progress we have made. They have become a threat to peace, stability and social order in the country.”
Tsvangirai said security forces were disrupting government programmes while the inclusive government itself was limping with some ministers refusing to report to him.
Going back to violence, the Premier said: “It appears the demons of violence are back, a siege mood seems to be slowly gripping the country. This is a reincarnation of the violence of 2008 and this country risks sliding back if immediate action is not taken to bring back order and peace in the country.”
Violence was on the increase, he said, citing a human rights group’s findings that 800 cases of human rights violations were recorded in September alone.
He said the “misguided elements” would not succeed because he and the President had agreed to stop the violence.
Tsvangirai took a swipe at the police for besieging the MDC-T headquarters on Tuesday and beating up people “for no apparent reason”.
“They threatened bystanders, threw teargas into crowds going about their business and brought the entire city to a standstill as citizens scurried for cover. The police say they are for the law, for the people and for the country, but what we have witnessed is that they are anti-law, anti-people and anti-country,” he said.
Police barred Tsvangirai’s rallies over the weekend even though the High Court had sanctioned the meetings.
Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone’s rally was also disrupted by Zanu PF youths in Hatcliffe on Sunday.
“When a police officer refuses to respect a court order, this is total disregard for the rule of law and it represents a breakdown of justice in the country,” the PM said.
“The major issue is that you have the police disrupting a lawful gathering to be addressed by their own minister and further disrupting a tour of a hospital by the Prime Minister of the land, then you now have party functionaries masquerading as a police force.”
He condemned the violence that has characterised public hearings by Parliament and threats allegedly made on Bulawayo South legislator Eddie Cross’ life.
The Premier said one of the challenges facing the inclusive government was lack of movement on key reforms to ensure a proper environment for the conduct of free and fair elections, including media reforms.
“I am saddened to note that there is no movement on this arena, especially the liberalisation of the airwaves. The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity and his staff have simply refused to act to ensure movement in this key area,” he said.
Then he took a swipe at the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe for shortlisting Zimpapers for a radio licence, describing the move as the “biggest assault” on media freedom in the country.
He said Zimbabweans wanted a plural media environment and not “more of the same”.
“They want a multiplicity of voices, not another ZBC in a different form. It would not be surprising at this rate to learn one of these days that ZBC itself is now seeking a newspaper licence as part of ‘pluralising’ the print media in this country,” he said.
However, he said a number of achievements had been recorded in stabilising the economy and improving service delivery in the health and education sectors.