Blessings Mashaya and Mugove Tafirenyika
SENIOR STAFF WRITERS
JITTERY Zanu PF officials are sweating over the planned July 31 mass protests, which they claim are meant to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa from power, the Daily News reports.
This comes as worried observers have warned that the planned demonstrations will likely be met with stiff State resistance — prompting political analysts to make fresh calls for national dialogue.
It also comes as political tensions are rising anew in the country, over the worsening local economic crisis — Zimbabwe’s worst in a decade, which is stirring restlessness among long-suffering citizens.
At the same time, the organisers of the planned demos claimed yesterday that they had garnered widespread support for the protests against the country’s deteriorating economic situation and Mnangagwa’s perceived reluctance to hold much-needed dialogue with the opposition and civic society leaders.
Amid the growing tension ahead of the mass demonstrations, Zanu PF has moved to accuse the opposition and exiled former senior members of the ruling party — linked to the vanquished Generation 40 (G40) group — of plotting to unseat Mnangagwa from power.
Addressing a party meeting in Harare on Monday, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said the former liberation movement was aware of the “anti-establishment agendas” of its detractors.
“The party is aware of the planned mass protests which are being organised by MDC Alliance renegades, Tajamuka, Front for Economic Emancipation in Zimbabwe (FEEZ) led by the ex-party youth commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu and other media protagonists.
“Our security department should constantly alert us on this clear present danger of this unholy alliance.
“We also take note and welcome the Prosecutor-General’s efforts for the extradition of Jonathan Moyo from Kenya as he is the figment of the external demonisation of leadership, exhorting mass uprising in the country,” Mpofu said.
“It is discomforting that an individual was arrested in Kuwadzana printing our Zanu PF and CIO cards … the level of, and sophistication of such an act, only point to the fact that there are leakages and gross breaches of our internal security system which must be thoroughly investigated.
“The court proceedings … should be followed so as to elicit the circumstances surrounding such a criminal intent and threat to the security of the party,” he said further.
Mpofu was referring to five men who were recently arrested and arraigned before the Harare Magistrates’ Courts on accusations of attempting to usurp the functions of the government by creating and manufacturing fake State security agents’ identity cards.
It has been claimed that the identity cards would give the accused privileges of State security agents, as well as access to classified information.
This comes as Mnangagwa and his under pressure administration are struggling to unshackle the country’s economy from its current crisis which has triggered fears of a return to the horror situation of 2008.
Despite the 77-year-old Zanu PF leader having been feted like a king when he took over from the late former president Robert Mugabe, via a widely supported military coup in November 2017, Mnangagwa and his government have found the task of repairing the country’s broken economy very tough.
On Monday, Mpofu admitted as much to this reality, highlighting the economic struggles currently facing ordinary people in the country.
“Prices of goods remain high and are out of reach of common people. The reduction of the price of bread from $77 to $66 is commendable, although not sufficient enough to cushion people from their small incomes.
“A complete overhaul and lowering of prices is essential if the economic situation is to stabilise for our people.
“We have also observed the talk of dollarisation of the economy, as the affinity and appetite for the US dollar continues, with most retailers preferring this over our own Zimbabwean dollar.
“The party needs continuous updates on these developments from the ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and not only wait for relevant State organs to be summoned for presentations at these meetings or politburo,” Mpofu said of the dire economic situation prevailing in the country.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the July 31 protests are confident that they will garner large crowds in the planned mass actions.
Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngarivhume — who is main organiser of the planned protests — said yesterday that he had held talks with various groups to persuade them to join the demos.
Among those he said he had met were Tsenengamu, Mnangagwa’s adviser Shingi Munyeza and opposition figures that include Ian Makone and Elton Mangoma.
“We met on Monday to engage leaders and seek buy-in for the nationwide demonstration, and we got it.
“The consultation process is still on-going and I am having a meeting with the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary= general Raymond Majongwe and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) … to seek their buy-in as well.
“I have already received the support of nurses’ unions who have said they want to join the demonstration which will go beyond corruption, to include the need for national dialogue, as well as paying civil servants in US dollars,” Ngarivhume said.
He also said while Zimbabweans appreciated the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, this was not as severe as the challenges that the country faced owing to deep-rooted corruption.
“This week we are going to notify the police of our intention to demonstrate.
“We are aware of the lockdown restrictions and appreciate we have a balancing act to play, but we also realise that we cannot be afraid of Covid that has only killed nine people so far, compared to millions whose lives have been destroyed by corruption.
“We are going to put in place measures to ensure the safety of protesters, including ensuring that we all have face masks, observe social distancing during the march and that participants have their hands sanitised,” Ngarivhume said further.
All this comes as political analysts have warned that the planned protests were likely to be met with State brutality — which is why national dialogue was critical.
Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said the country’s mooted national talks are important, as Mnangagwa could not expect the nation’s problems to go away on their own.
“The call for demonstrations is warranted, defendable and legitimate because the situation has become desperate for Zimbabweans.
“However, the heavy hand of the State awaits those that will partake in the planned demonstration, and in the face of Covid-19 authorities will not hesitate to use a hammer to kill a fly.
“The State will likely go into its default mode of heavy-handedness to send a strong signal, like what happened with previous flash demonstrations, including the recent one in Warren Park,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
“The opposition, therefore, has limited options because the freedom to demonstrate is only on paper. The democratic space is under lock and key.
“The reality is that nothing will change unless political gladiators in the country dialogue. ED should also realise that he has tried all he can to work on the economy on his own, and he has failed.
“His own supporters probably agree on this abysmal failure and also on the fact that all that needed to go wrong since he came to power in 2017 has gone awfully wrong.
“The only viable solution is thus a roundtable dialogue with the so-called enemies of the State (political rivals),” Masunungure further told the Daily News.