ED vows to put down protests  

Mugove Tafirenyika

AHEAD of tomorrow’s planned mass demonstrations, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned that security forces will deal robustly with all unsanctioned protests, the Daily News reports.
This comes as Zanu PF has suspended politburo member Cleveria Chizema for allegedly being involved in organising the demos and trying to drive a wedge between Mnangagwa and one of his deputies, Constantino Chiwenga.
Addressing an extra-ordinary Zanu PF politburo meeting in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said sternly that the gathering was taking place “against a backdrop of the threat to our democracy, constitutionalism, rule of law, independence and nationhood from terrorists masquerading as opposition parties and activists”.
“The planned insurrection of July 31 is connected to the violence and destabilisation that opposition elements have fomented since 2018, including on  August 1, 2018 and 14 to 17 January 2019 — which led to loss of lives.
“I want to warn the organisers of this ill-fated demonstration that our security forces will be vigilant and on high alert to appropriately respond to their shenanigans.
“It must never be in doubt that the objective of these rogue Zimbabweans, acting in cahoots with foreign appendages, supporters and financiers is to stage an insurrection to overthrow our democratically-elected government,” Mnangagwa said ominously.
In August 2018 and January 2019, several people were shot and killed by security forces during violent demonstrations over the delayed release of election results and steep fuel price hikes respectively.
The government blamed the opposition and pro-democracy groups at the time for fomenting the violence which brought back into sharp focus Harare’s respect for constitutional freedoms and human rights.
Mnangagwa, who was flanked by his two deputies Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, also accused protest organisers of endangering citizens’ lives by exposing them to Covid-19.
“Furthermore, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, their planned July 31 demonstration is a threat to the safety and security of our people and the people’s right to life.
“Emboldened and inspired by the upcoming Heroes Day and Defence Forces commemorations, Zanu PF — as the people’s party — will never stand by and allow our people to be put in harm’s way.
“We will equally defend our independence and sovereignty to the letter and not betray the fallen heroes and heroines who paid the supreme sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today,” Mnangagwa said further.
This comes as political tension has been rising in the country, in the build-up to tomorrow’s planned demos.
The organisers of the anti-government protests have said defiantly that the demonstrations will go ahead with or without the green light from authorities.
On Monday, Zanu PF gave its supporters the go ahead to “defend” themselves when the protests take place.
Meanwhile, acting Zanu PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa announced yesterday that the politburo had suspended Chizema after she allegedly failed to report anti-Mnangagwa fliers that were delivered to her home in March this year.
“The member, Cleveria Chizema, did not report the matter … she clearly … vacillated in her responsibilities as a member of the politburo.
“For that reason, the politburo has directed that there be thorough investigations … on how the fliers were delivered to her home…  when it happened in March and did not do anything other than trying to call other members to a meeting without disclosing its nature.
“Among one of their futile imaginations is that Chiwenga is planning a coup against Mnangagwa and that the two do not see eye to eye,” Chinamasa said.

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