Democracy has taken a new dimension

EDITORIAL COMMENT

GOVERNMENT spokesperson and Secretary for Information Ndavaningi Mangwana’s claims that the government’s approach to democracy is modern under the so-called New Dispensation — which we now all know is still the same old establishment under a new name — are laughable, given the brutal clampdown on demonstrations that we have witnessed so far.

It is constitutional for citizens to demonstrate whenever they are unhappy with what government is doing — or not doing.

Almost every demonstration that has taken place ever since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office has been met with brute force, and in some instances people were shot dead, a far cry from the handling of demos during former President Robert Mugabe’s time. To then call this government a new dispensation is a
misnomer.

It is strange that every demonstration has been met with force. It does not make sense to say the police will refuse to grant an order for a demonstration
because it will turn violent and there will be destruction of property. If the police assume that this is how every demonstration will turn out, then that is
as good as suspending the Constitution, which grants citizens the right to demonstrate.

People decide to demonstrate because their security is threatened by the hardships that they have been experiencing under Mnangagwa’s government. It is
unfortunate that the government believes every opposition action they do not agree with fits the lens of internal insurgency, terrorism or economic sabotage.

The country is already unstable because of the rate at which prices of nearly every basic commodity is spiralling out of control under the same government.
Claims that the State is out to protect the nation are laughable because it is the one that has put the nation under economic siege, to begin with.

While it is understandable that national security takes precedence over everything else, it appears that in Zimbabwe it is being used as a ruse to make sure
that opposition forces do not exercise their democratic right.

The violence that is often seen during demonstrations is provoked by the security forces themselves, especially when they randomly beat about demonstrators or
indiscriminately throw teargas canisters at the protesters.

Without such an unnecessary and reckless reaction that tends to provoke violence, demonstrators would go about their business peacefully.

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