BY VENERANDA LANGA
INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday claimed government’s intelligence operatives had concluded that the Nelson Chamisa-led opposition party was responsible for the January 14 to 16 stayaways, which turned violent.
Mutsvangwa said this in the Senate in response to questions from MDC Alliance legislators who wanted to know why government was attributing the protests against fuel price hikes to the opposition when, in fact, the stayaway was the brainchild of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and some pressure groups.
Masvingo Senator Tichinani Mavetera (MDC Alliance) had quizzed Mutsvangwa on why the State media was peddling falsehoods, which had the potential to divide the nation.
Mutsvangwa said intelligence gathered by government had found out that the MDC had held two meetings in Harare to organise the protests.
“This country has got intelligence departments and there is nothing which happens without intelligence knowing. There was a threat of regime change, and there was a meeting on November 3 and November 7 at Wild Geese (Lodge) and on January 12 at Belvedere, and there is a record of that report. We would not have enjoyed this peace if we did not have intelligence,” she alleged.
“It was an uprising and we saw hooligans looting shops and vehicles being torched, and police on duty were stoned to death and roads barricaded. There was unnecessary loss of life, but government intervened and managed to quell the noise and now we have peace.”
Earlier, Mashonaland East MP Wunganayi Tapfumanei had asked Home Affairs deputy minister Mike Madiro to explain how government had come to the conclusion that the demonstrators were MDC supporters when they were not in party regalia. But Madiro said it was a question for Mutsvangwa.
Senator Martha Muronzi (Mashonaland Central) then grilled Mutsvangwa over women abuse.
“It does not matter who has broken the law. They will be arrested. As a woman, I am pained by reports that there were women that were raped because we want to give women their dignity. Our police have established victim-friendly desks to treat the rape victims with empathy. We also encourage civil society to assist the affected women to come forward and report the cases,” Mutsvangwa said.
Midlands Senator Morgen Komichi (MDC Alliance) asked Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi if government’s solutions to quashing stayaways was to use brutal force.
“The historical narration by Komichi is untrue. Doctors went on strike and their grievances were resolved and then hooligans started barricading roads and destroying property and now Komichi is saying the country is on fire. If they did not barricade roads and loot, the country would be functioning in peace. We sent police to work 24 hours arresting those people and now there is peace. We do not know what other actions government should have taken other than the actions we took,” Ziyambi said.