BY BLESSED MHLANGA/ HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday threw down the gauntlet and declared he had had “enough of the machinations” of opposition political parties and hostile countries plotting his downfall and frustrating government efforts to re-calibrate the economy.
In a special televised address from State House in Harare in the wake of fierce local and foreign criticism of his administration following the brutal crackdown on organisers of last week’s foiled anti-government protests, Mnangagwa threatened to “flush out bad apples” destabilising government efforts to resuscitate the economy and entrench democracy in the country.
“We make no apologies for fixing our systems across political, social and economic spectrum ...” he said.
“The dark forces, both inside and outside our borders, have tampered with our growth and prosperity for too long. They have thrived on dividing us. Let us as a people embrace the call for patriotism, hard work, transparency, accountability, love, unity and peace.”
Mnangagwa, whose tenure has been blighted by high-level corruption, runaway inflation and currency volatility, blamed natural forces and the opposition for working against him.
“Undoubtedly, my administration has faced many hurdles and attacks since its inauguration. These included the divisive politics of some opposition elements, the illegal economic sanctions, cyclones, droughts and more recently, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Added to this, is economic aggression, local currency manipulation and detractors who fear the inevitable imminent success of our reforms. All this was meant to undermine our projected economic growth and stability,” he said.
The Zanu PF administration has consistently clashed with Western countries, particularly the European Union bloc and the United States, whom it accuses of fomenting civil unrest to force regime change.
“We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors. The reforms, opening up, liberalisation and modernisation, we began shall continue with accelerated pace. Those who promote hate and disharmony will never win. The bad apples that have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out. Good shall triumph over evil,” he said.
The embattled Zanu PF leader, who is also fighting fierce factional wars within his party, said despite his public spat with EU and US envoys over human rights abuses by security forces, his administration remained committed to democracy and enhancing co-operation with friends and partners in the international community.
Mnangagwa also declared that security forces “will carry out with strictness and resolve” against what he described as terrorist opposition groupings.
He also promised prosperity, insisting that his government was on the path of achieving its vision 2030 of a middle-income economy and a better life for all.
“To achieve the prosperity we deserve, let us all unite, working together towards a common goal and dealing with each other in honesty and love. We make no apologies for fixing our systems across the socio, economic and political spectrum,” he said.
Since last week, Mnangagwa’s government has been under fire from regional and international human rights groups over its use of brute force to crush dissent.
At the weekend, some of the rights groups and politicians launched a social media campaign dubbed #ZimbabweanLivesMatter to pile pressure on the international community to call Mnangagwa to order.
Opposition MDC Alliance presidential affairs secretary Jameson Timba rubbished suggestions that they were a terrorist organisation.
Political commentator Ibbo Mandaza yesterday said Mnangagwa’s address confirmed that the regime was now in panic mode.
“They know that the international world has given up on them and now the real frightening thing for them is that the region will soon send warning signals. From what we are picking up from the region and we are working with the region, I think they are in for a shocker,” Mandaza said.
Academic Pedzisai Ruhanya said: “If there is anyone who is working against his government it is himself and Zanu PF on the basis that they are refusing to reform. Instead of moving the country forward in line with his new dispensation, open for business mantra, he is taking the country back to Rhodesia. Issues of abductions, issues of torture are associated with Mugabe, are associated with Rhodesia and surely that cannot be blamed on the opposition.
“The incidents of terrorism that we have, that everyone knows, are associated with the State as run by Zanu PF. From Gukurahundi to 2000 election violence, 2002 and 2008 massive electoral violence all these things are State-sanctioned, so the biggest terrorism in Zimbabwe is State-organised and for the President there is only one way to address the problems we face — that is to return the country to democratic legitimacy. You cannot talk open for business, new dispensation while you torture, while you abduct people, while people feel insecure, while you criminalise dissent. What is new dispensation about tortures, abduction and police brutality?”
Another political analyst Rashweat Mkundu said: “His statement rather shows a man who is not sure about his policy or where he is standing in terms of his power. It’s also a statement that is speaking not only to his opponents, but also to those who are angling to kick him out of power from within Zanu PF. So it’s more of someone trying to reassure himself that he is still in charge and send a message to both internal and external critics that they need to be on the watch for his wrath. But it does not engender any confidence because it simply demonstrates that this government is behind the harassment and attacks on the opposition, which of course he denies.”