BY OBEY MANAYITI/NUNURAI JENA
ZANU PF youth leaders say they are ready to counter anti-government protests planned by opposition and civic groups, setting the stage for a bruising political fight.
They also alleged a sinister hidden hand behind the calls for demonstrations against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s stewardship of the economy.
“Let them (opposition and civic groups) do that and they will learn a very big lesson. Let them get onto the streets and they will learn a very good example of how important it is to preserve peace. This is very simple and straight forward and they must know that we will make sure that they are dealt with to the fullest,” Zanu PF deputy youth secretary Lewis Matutu told NewsDay yesterday.
“There is no apology about that. The President invited them for dialogue and they are demanding special treatment. However, they must know that they are welcome to the streets and we will deal with them ruthlessly to make sure that they don’t disturb the peace in the country.”
This followed threats by MDC leader Nelson Chamisa early this week to roll out mass protests against government.
Addressing mourners at the party’s late Glen View South legislator Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java on Wednesday, Chamisa said most of his party supporters were
agitating for the protests and only awaiting a signal from him.
“I have heard a lot of people saying, we are waiting for a signal and I have told them to relax, we have all the time, we don’t want to do something that will not bring results,” he said.
“When we start, we will succeed. There will be no sleeping because we want all people to know that change has come, in peace. We want peace in this country, we want peace in this country and we want a negotiated outcome which will allow us to deal with the dispute of the July 30 (2018) elections.”
The economy is impaired by shortages of hard currency, fuel, medicines and is enduring frequent power cuts that last up to 10 hours, decimating industry.
Government has increased the price of fuel three times this year, leading to prices of other goods skyrocketing and stoking public anger against Mnangagwa.
Reports suggest that the government has been secretly beefing up its armouries to deal with potential demonstrations.
Our sister newspaper, the Zimbabwe Independent, last week reported that the police had recently acquired an assortment of arms, including 3 343 AK-47 assault
rifles, 2 000 CZ pistols, 500 P1 pistols, 500 223-Steyrs, 500 UZI, 500 Mossbergs, 500 riot guns, 300 mortar tubes, 500 MAG, 300 SSG sniper rifles, 300 Dragnov,
100 RPG-7, 1 500 Tokarev and 22 948 AK-47 magazines.
Soldiers shot and killed six people during the post-election protests on August 1 last year, while human rights groups say security forces killed 17 people during the January anti-fuel price hikes demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.
Matutu said instead of protests, the opposition must offer policy alternatives.
“We will not treat them like eggs when they fail to appreciate the developments that are for the good of our country,” he said.
“Let them go and they will learn. We will deal with them. We are not the government, but the ruling party which doesn’t want to be disturbed in what we are
Already, some members of the civil society organisations were recently arrested at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on their way from attending a workshop in Maldives for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, an allegation they have denied.
“The last violent demonstrations by MDC left us wiser and prepared to deal with such eventualities. I advise Chamisa to seriously consider the consequences of violence to both the perpetrators and to the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe,” Zanu PF youth league leader Pupurai Togarepi told NewsDay.
“If to him (Chamisa) violence is the only choice, then let him know that all options will be on the table to appropriately respond to any provocation.”
Zanu PF Mashonaland West youths also said they would defend Mnangagwa against those planning demonstrations to unseat him
Speaking during a provincial executive committee meeting in Chinhoyi yesterday, provincial chairperson Vengai Musengi said it was unfortunate that the MDC was
being used by people he did not name to try to remove Mnangagwa.
“The MDC is being used by other people and they don’t know it. Even in their wildest dream, if President Mnangagwa is removed, MDC will not rule this country.
That should sink in their thick heads,” Musengi said.
He said Zanu PF youths had resolved to defend Mnangagwa with all their power because he was elected and should finish his term.
“As Zanu PF youths, we will not fold our hands and watch this country sliding into anarchy. Let those planning demonstrations get this very clear that we are
going to defend our leader. President Mnangagwa should not lose sleep over barking dogs,” Musengi further said.
Zanu PF national youth secretary for security Silas Chimbiru said they would confront opposition protesters head-on if they try to disturb peace in the
“If they try to be violent and block roads, we will remove the tyres together with the demonstrators,” Chimbiru said.