By Farai Matiashe
THE Nelson Chamisa-led opposition MDC party has lashed out at the international community for letting down Zimbabweans by fence-sitting while State security agents terrorised and killed innocent civilians in the wake of last month’s protests against a fuel price hike.
Addressing a Sapes Trust policy dialogue meting in Harare on Thursday, MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said ordinary Zimbabweans felt hard done by regional and international bodies which remained mum as the country resembled a warzone, with soldiers using live ammunition on civilians, killing 17 and injuring over 80 others.
Local human rights groups said over 20 women were raped, while hundreds of people were internally-displaced as rogue soldiers went on the rampage in a State-sanctioned clampdown on dissent.
Mwonzora said it was wrong for the State to use brute force on unarmed civilians.
Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa defended the deployment of soldiers on the protesters, saying government had to do so to save property and curb anarchy.
“What is wrong is wrong, what the Americans did when they bombed Aljazeera (Bagdad 2003) is wrong. You do not go and bomb Alpha Media Holdings because America bombed Aljazeera. Where is the connection?” Mwonzora asked.
“You are violating the rights of your people. If the American government would have shot people like what our government is doing, I am sure you would imagine the amount of outrage.”
Mwonzora said the force used to suppress protests was supposed to be well-controlled to ensure that it would not result in loss of life.
“In order to suppress an insurrection you may need force, but that force has to be proportionate and reasonable. The people who were being harassed in videos that we are seeing were not in demonstrations, they were in their homes and they were being beaten by soldiers in their homes,” he said.
“There is nothing that is being suppressed there because the demonstration is over. The people who are being raped showed there is no suppression of anything that is happening, this is sadistic and this is barbaric.”
But, Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana defended the State’s use of brute force, saying the situation had degenerated into a state of anarchy with his family receiving death threats from suspected opposition activists.
“I received death threats through messages. Some people were asking which school my kids learn at. Fortunately, I no longer have children that are still going to school,” he alleged.