Pressure piles on Mugabe, Zanu PF

HARARE - With the Zimbabwean economy continuing to die and long-suffering citizens becoming more restless by the day as witnessed in the dramatic events of the past week, the political pressure is mounting on President Robert Mugabe and his panicking ruling Zanu PF, who are facing their biggest challenge in their 36 years in power.

A stressed senior Zanu PF official who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday described the atmosphere in the country and within the top echelons of the party and the government as akin to “a witches’ cauldron” (situation of great distress or unrest, resembling a boiling kettle).

“Look, there is no doubt that things are very bad at the moment. In fact, the whole country is like a witches’ cauldron and no one can say with certainty how things will develop over the next few weeks and months.

“My only prayer is that whatever happens, Zimbabwe remains a stable and peaceful country,” the bigwig said.

The senior Zanu PF official was speaking in the wake of last Monday’s deadly riots in Harare, the crippling strike by fed up civil servants, as well as Wednesday’s historic nationwide stay-away that left urban areas resembling ghost towns.

It did not help matters that disaffected war veterans also made it blatantly clear last week that they could be ready to break ties with Zanu PF after the expulsion of their leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, was confirmed by the party’s politburo on Wednesday.

But as expected, Zanu PF has answered back with venom, sending riot police and the military into high density suburbs to quell growing unrest in the country.

It has also employed the wicked weapon of dragnet arrests, including of teenagers, that observers say is designed to instil fear into the masses and the leaders of the growing resistance.

And over the weekend, the nervous ruling party dispatched all its senior officials around the country in a desperate endeavour to steady the wobbly Zanu PF ship which is already at sixes and sevens due to the former liberation movement’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.

On Friday, and with his former deputy Joice Mujuru on the verge of forging an alliance with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, a seemingly rattled Mugabe himself told his supporters in Bindura to beware.

“Muvengi anenzira dzakawanda dzekukudubura Zanu PF.  There are so many parties, necha Mai Mujuru vanonyara kuita musangano wavo vanoda kubatana. Vanoitira misangano yavo ku South Africa vachipihwa mazano nevarungu (The enemy has devised many strategies to dislodge Zanu PF from power and even Mujuru’s party is seeking a coalition. Opposition parties are scared of going it alone and are having meetings in South Africa where they are being advised by whites),” Mugabe said.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, leader of the #ThisFlag campaign, Pastor Evan Mawarire, vowed that despite the government’s growing threats against activists like him and others, they remained committed to tackling the country’s rot head-on.

“Although I have not been arrested yet, I have been informed that I am due to be called in for questioning.

“However, I believe and am convinced that I have not committed any crime either in the past or now,” he said.

On the other hand, war veterans also ratcheted up the pressure on Mugabe and Zanu PF yesterday, saying they were seeking another meeting with their patron over the expulsion of Mutsvangwa from the ruling party.

“We shall seek another meeting with Mugabe for him to explain the politburo decision to expel Mutsvangwa because to us it is a nullity.

“Firstly, he was expelled as a Cabinet minister for the portfolio of war veterans and now they have expelled him from the party which is not acceptable to us,” the spokesperson of the war veterans, Douglas Mahiya, said.

Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said the desperate measures that Zanu PF was taking, such as unleashing arms of State to clamp down on social media, were “indicative of a party under siege”.

“The threat to clamp down on social media is part of an array of other threats and it is just coming as a cut and paste programme of what other dictators have done. But they will not succeed.

“The only problem in Zimbabwe is that a government that openly manipulates elections by denying people to register to vote, that uses intimidation and acts corruptly cannot teach morality to the people,” he said.

Hamauswa was speaking after the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) issued a warning to mobile phone users on Wednesday that they risked arrest and suffering disconnections if they incited violence using social media.

This happened as millions of Zimbabweans were heeding calls to shut down the country.

The warning suspiciously coincided with millions of mobile phone users not being able to access popular messaging platform, WhatsApp, a development which pro-democracy groups said was a result of jamming by intelligence operatives to manage that the general strike.

Wednesday’s stay-away, dubbed Operation Shutdown, was widely seen as the biggest general strike to have been mounted in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe.

Contacted for a comment, the MDC said Mugabe and Zanu PF were the sole authors of the collapse of the economy, and it would be foolish to expect them to address matters, as well as the concerns of impoverished Zimbabweans.

“... Mugabe is yesterday’s man. To expect him to successfully address the concerns of the people is like expecting human life to exist on planet Jupiter,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu, told the Daily News On Sunday.

“Mugabe is way past his sell-by date. The Zimbabwean economy has imploded and everything that can go wrong has since gone wrong. The Zanu PF regime is utterly clueless.

“Only one viable solution is left and that’s the immediate resignation of Mugabe and his entire Cabinet. Anything short of this simply won’t do,” he added.

This past week’s clashes between police and protesters — including those who are accused of participating in the Beitbridge and Harare riots — saw police arresting more than 300 people, including tourists.

As a result, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it had deployed many lawyers around the country to try and secure their releases.

On Friday, police also arrested former ruling party youth leader Acie Lumumba, and Tajamuka/Sesijikile spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi on varying charges which Mugabe’s critics said were “wholly unjustified”.

Mkwananzi was arrested on charges related to public violence that was allegedly committed on June 16 this year, but his lawyer Trust Maanda dismissed the charges.

“The police said they wanted to interrogate him and we knew the line they were taking since they had done the same to others.

“But somehow they are saying he was involved in public violence on June 16. There is no justification whatsoever for his arrest. In other words we can’t trust the police,” he said.

Mkwananzi was yesterday remanded in custody to tomorrow for his bail hearing at the Magistrate’s Court, amid suspicions that his arrest is related to his role in last Wednesday’s strike and Tajamuka’s calls to storm State House.

On Thursday, Tajamuka/Sesijikile not only called on Mugabe to resign immediately, but also threatened to storm State House yesterday.

Comments (8)

Aluta continua, The next shutdown should be a stay away of 3 days.

whitehorse - 10 July 2016

No further comments!

105 or 1=1 - 10 July 2016

The arrest of these many activist is not only unlawful but also a catalyst to serious civil disobedience that has the potential of bringing Mugabe's dictatorship down sooner than 2018. Zanu PF has no stamina to contain a revolution whose time has come particularly this time around when people are hungry, angry and hopeless. Tajamuka, Sesijikile, Hatichada and Asisafuni.

Ndabazezwe Viki - 10 July 2016

please zvakana veduwe moda kutonga kusvika rinhi nhai sekrur. muchazorora rinhi . isu tashupika zvenyu pamusaka pemapolicy enyu. tairarama zvakanaka muna 1999 kudzokera mumashure.tinzwirei ngoni sekuru.

Todii Isu - 11 July 2016

Its time up Cde Mugabe. Forward ever backwards never. Pack your bags while you can. No threats will cow the people and the people power will reign soon. The gun can never rule without the peoples support- never!!!!

Hondo - 11 July 2016

July 13 and 14 Lets Shutdown Zimbabwe, Mugabe Must Go, sesijikile/ Asisafuni/ Talamba/ Atichidi/ Sutiyandi/ Go My Grandpa

khulu dlodlo - 11 July 2016

Any other leader whether from ZANU PF or another party is welcome but not Mugabe.Bodo , kwete.

Handeikuhondo - 11 July 2016

There is no stopping an idea whose time has come!

Achimwene - 12 July 2016

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