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Protesters must steer clear of violence


THE chaos that brought business to a standstill in Harare’s central business district (CBD) at the weekend as hundreds of protesters demonstrating under the #Tajamuka banner clashed with illegal money changers, vendors and police in a bloody confrontation that left behind a trail of destruction, should be condemned by all right-thinking Zimbabweans.

Editorial Comment

While we appreciate the citizens’ anger against President Robert Mugabe’s family’s profligacy and Zanu PF’s misrule, poor governance, and endemic corruption at a time the majority of citizens are wallowing in abject poverty, we believe violence is not the correct path to express dismay.

We also condemn the attack on journalists in their line of duty by the riot police.

The abuse of journalists at the hands of State security apparatuses is a cause for concern, as this came hardly a month after another scribe was beaten in Gwanda reportedly by a government minister.

In both cases, what is worrisome is that the journalists had identified themselves, but still the minister and the police ignored that and decided to abuse them. We believe this must be stopped forthwith.

What is important is that the journalists injured on Friday were covering a demonstration by concerned citizens against government’s failure to revive the economy, which has caused untold misery to ordinary citizens.

There were also reports that the demonstrators assaulted other peace-loving citizens who were going about their business. We condemn that in the strongest of terms.

It is our contention that there should be no reason for Zimbabweans to fight against each other or incur massive losses as a result of the vandalism that occurred as demonstrators engaged in running battles with the police to the detriment of business.

We are cognisant of the fact that Zimbabweans are hard-pressed and have been driven to the edges by economic pressure put on them as a result of the economic morass prevailing in the country, resulting in the government failing to provide just the basics for citizens to live comfortably.

What is important is that the demonstrators sent a clear message that Zimbabweans are tired of Mugabe’s misrule, and that they stand ready to fight his poor governance.

We have no reason to believe that by reacting forcefully the riot police acted in the interests of the citizens and/or to protect public life — when they are the ones accused of injuring innocent citizens going about their business — as guaranteed by the governance charter.

Mugabe should be warned that citizens’ patience is wearing thin and soon, Zimbabweans may decide to fight back, and no one can stop them.

What is disturbing is that as Zimbabweans continue to groan over poor governance, asset stripping and abuse of authority by Zanu PF top officials, Mugabe does not appear to know the extent of the suffering as a result of his misrule.

We urge the demonstrators to coalesce against the Zanu PF regime’s misrule and poor governance and not fight against each other to Mugabe’s glee.

The citizenry must not fight each other for what Mugabe has done against them. Mugabe is not superhuman, and, therefore, he should be dismissed at the earliest convenience to serve the country from further collapse.
In all that, the demonstrators must steer away from violence.

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