Defiant Chamisa hits back at govt… says authorities cannot stop MDC mass demos
OPPOSITION leader Nelson Chamisa has pooh-poohed threats by the government at the weekend that authorities would arrest him if he mounted any unsanctioned demonstrations, the Daily News reports.
The MDC boss said yesterday that the reality was that authorities were completely powerless to stop Zimbabweans from holding protests against the government and the country’s worsening economic rot.
In addition, the defiant Chamisa said the government’s threats against him and the MDC would never be able to stop “an idea whose time has come”.
All this comes as the country’s economic situation continues to worsen — with millions of people facing hunger due to rising poverty levels and a ravaging drought which is decimating the region.
It also comes as the government itself has readily admitted that the country is left with very little grain in its silos, at a time that most shops have run out of the staple maize-meal.
Speaking to the Daily News’ sister paper at the weekend — the Daily News on Sunday — Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi warned that authorities would arrest Chamisa and his lieutenants if they carried out their threats to unfurl mass protests against Mnangagwa and the government.
Yesterday, Chamisa said he was unfazed by the threats of incarceration by the government, which followed the launch of his 2020 agenda programme in the Harare high density suburb of Mbare last week.
“I cannot be in the habit of paraphrasing my speeches. I said what I said and that is it. Abaiwa ngaabude (tough luck to anyone who feels troubled by this).
“But we must thank the government for reminding us that they are the barrier and that they fear being broken,” he told the Daily News before referring further questions to his spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda.
On his part, Sibanda said the government and Zanu PF were “ill-advised to think that … anyone can intimidate Zimbabweans into submission”.
“The problem with Zanu PF is that they have this dialectical and binary thinking which makes them see danger everywhere.
“It is all because of their illegality that is causing them to develop this laager mentality and start thinking that any move by the MDC is worth killing for.
“Ziyambi needs to be reminded that this illegitimate regime cannot stop an idea whose time has come,” Sibanda said.
“The president (Chamisa) made it clear that we are going to engage in five key fights and it is these battles that will break the barriers that are preventing Zimbabweans to get the change that they deserve.
“No one can stop the tide because we have constitutional ways of dealing with this regime,” he said further.
Unveiling his 2020 agenda last week, Chamisa vowed to take a more radical stance against Mnangagwa’s administration — including mounting rolling mass demonstrations — in a bid to force the government to end the country’s worsening political and economic rot.
“This year, 2020, is the people’s year to start the people’s decade. It is the year of the people’s action. This is the year when something must and will give. This year is our revolutionary moment.
“As we christen 2020 the year of the people’s action, I’m happy to announce the launch today of the Breaking Barriers Initiative (BBI) … designed to enable the people of Zimbabwe from across the full political spectrum of our nation to act together, support each other and speak with one voice beyond political boundaries and divisions created by the maShurugwi regime which have built artificial barriers between and among Zimbabweans,” he said then.
However, and responding to this, the government warned Chamisa at the weekend that police would arrest him without any hesitation if he carried out his threat.
“They are saying that they want to break all barriers and what it means is that they want to break the country’s laws.
“They speak about the rule of law but they are failing to respect the country’s laws … this means that they want to remove the constitutionally-elected government.
“They want to violate the country’s laws and they know the consequences. He (Chamisa) will be arrested,” Ziyambi told our sister publication, the Daily News On Sunday.
“Law enforcement agents are ready … Indeed, there is no one who is above the law. If they continue with their move of breaking laws, he will be arrested.
“They have also developed a culture of inciting violence and making utterances that disturb the enjoyment of peace in the country. That is illegal and he will be arrested for that,” he warned further.
In his “state of the nation” address to his supporters last week, Chamisa also said that he was pushing for change and an end to the current hardships that are ravaging long-suffering Zimbabweans — which he blamed on Mnangagwa and his government.
“The change we have sought as the MDC is not change for us as a political party, but change for us as Zimbabweans. That is why we have become a people’s movement.
“People have been impoverished beyond measure, no jobs … income … lights … water … fuel … prices are escalating while incomes are plunging.
“It’s just hell on earth. A beautiful … and hitherto relatively prosperous country turned into a hellhole by failed, rogue and corrupt politics and policies,” Chamisa said.
“This is the signal. The state of our nation is the signal. Zanu PF has given us the signal.
“Our pain and suffering is too much. This is the signal. Change starts with you and me. It’s time to answer the call,” he said further.
Meanwhile, the country’s worsening economic rot has triggered fears of social unrest among long-suffering citizens.
In addition, analysts have said that the country’s renewed national tensions underline the urgent need for Mnangagwa and Chamisa to end their long-running political feud
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the country’s ex-leader Robert Mugabe, who are both late — is also trying very hard to nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold talks.
He has impressed upon both men the urgent need for them to work together to end the country’s economic crisis.
Mbeki’s visit to Harare in December last year was part of plans by Sadc and the African Union (AU) to end Zimbabwe’s long-running political dispute which is threatening to destabilise the entire sub-region.
He is expected back in the country soon to continue with his valiant efforts to end the two rivals’ long running feud.