'Vulnerable Mugabe will use violence'

BULAWAYO - A former cabinet minister says embattled President Robert Mugabe, who is struggling to fend off growing resistance to his governance — both from with and outside — could use bloodletting violence as the last line of defence to protect his family and job.

The warning, made by former Education minister David Coltart,  comes as the nonagenarian has intensified a crackdown against the leadership of the war veterans who last week served him with divorce papers after growing disillusioned with his leadership style.

“I doubt very much whether Mugabe will resign; in the past when he faced similar crises he has held on to power doggedly.

“If anything he will be encouraged to hold on to power even more now that his family itself feels threatened by the groundswell of political opposition to him exhibited by civic society, the churches, war veterans and even powerful figures within his own party,” Coltart told the Daily News yesterday.

Coltart, whose autobiography The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe, has exposed Mugabe’s government complicity in the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s, said the nonagenarian and Zanu PF had a long history of violence and would use it against protesters.

“Sadly, this is almost certainly the next step it will take because there is no sign that they are prepared to deal with the legitimate demands made by people to tackle corruption and do away with its anti-poor policies,” Coltart added.

Last week, Zanu PF youths flooded the streets of Harare in a demonstration against pro-democracy groups and ordinary Zimbabweans who are fed up with Mugabe’s leadership which they say has been disastrous.

The Zanu PF youths, led by national political commissar — Innocent Hamandishe — threatened to unleash violence against popular clergyman Evan Mawarire and the Tajamuka/Sesjikile pressure group.

Mawarire, who is the founder of #ThisFlag, a peaceful social media campaign against Mugabe and Zanu PF excesses, organised a crippling general strike early this month before he was arrested on charges which his lawyers said were trumped up.

He was freed by the courts.

Together with Tajamuka/Sesjikile, the local cleric has assumed the face of Zimbabwe’s struggle against Mugabe’s entrenched dictatorship.

Coltart said it was clear that Zanu PF had been grossly shaken by the #ThisFlag movement and they still had no idea on how to deal with the growing movement that has its base mainly on social media.

“The entire Zanu PF leadership has been shaken by the #ThisFlag movement; not only is it amorphous and therefore difficult to attack, but also Zanu PF has no answer for any organisation which cleverly promotes a non-violent campaign,” he said.

“Zanu PF knows how to deal with violence because it is well practised in that art, but it has no idea how to respond to a people’s movement which promotes non-violence.

“The best way for Mugabe and Zanu PF to contain the turmoil is for them to genuinely call for a national convention to discuss how we can all act in the best national interest to save our nation from collapse.

“This must not be a process driven by Zanu PF; ideally the churches should play a role in brokering and chairing such a convention where discussions can be held to map a way ahead for the nation.

“Sadly, I don’t think that Zanu PF is anywhere near ready for such a dialogue,” added Coltart.

Mugabe is reeling from multiple problems which have seriously put in doubt his future as the economic meltdown has fuelled public anger which recently triggered riots in the small town of Beitbridge and Harare.

On July 1, deadly riots erupted in the border town of Beitbridge when a demonstration by small traders turned violent which led to destruction of property and arrests of protesters.

The riots were caused by an imports ban, mainly of consumer goods from South Africa, which left small traders across both sides of the border, without business.

They later spread to Harare on July 4 where irate kombi drivers and touts clashed with anti-riot police over police roadblocks which they said were too many and extortionate.

Apart from these, the veteran but now frail Zimbabwean leader is struggling to heal his party which is riven with factionalism.

Crucially, former freedom fighters unexpectedly cut their ties with the Zanu PF leader whom they accused of being “genocidal” — in a stunning development which showed that their relationship had irretrievably broken down.

War veterans had been one of Mugabe’s strongest pillars of support — playing particularly significant roles to keep the nonagenarian on the throne in the hotly-disputed 2000 and 2008 national elections which were both marred by serious violence and the murder of hundreds of opposition supporters.

Comments (8)

I am a military person and l want to dare the goblin to bring it on(violence). l will not let him or anyone to violate my family and friends. I will fight on their side no matter what. As for you police dogs stop harassing civilians because we will incite them to turn against you. After all you are lodgers in their houses.

Masende Enkunzi - 26 July 2016

zimbabwe is a democratic country and people are free to air their views. coltart can say what ever he thinks but this man is human and a devout catholic. i dont think he would be naive enough to use violence against the very people who put him in that position

el chapo - 26 July 2016

what a shallow minded man this Innocent Chidha-a Hamandishe is. he spits and farts irrelevance and is well known in the zanu pf circles nenyaya yekungobuda mubag. you are a youth who comes from chitungwiza .you have with you some 1st hand information on how youth are surviving out there and yet somehow you find yourself preaching such gospel. nxaaaaaa disgusting .

murambatsvina - 26 July 2016

This time around its take take f.......k around all thugs who are always used by zanu to intimidate voters better confront them straight away and it is better to start warning them now .or start the war on them right now including chiefs who back them .

Diibulaanyika - 26 July 2016

The old man would rather die in power because lets face it his wife knows that she and her brood are in trouble the moment he goes. And so she wont let him leave. And she has affiliated herself with the people that are young and are hungry for wealth that do not want the status quo to change. So he is between a rock and a hard place. Chances are that he will want to come down on these war vets because they threaten his support base. Ma youths makawanda muma town, ma war vets are mostly based kumusha, can you imagine the havock in the rural areas that these people can create if they decide they are no longer campaigning for Zanu. So David is right these people will almost certainly be dealt with in an effort to break the war vets. Zanu was built on violence and death, and a wounded animal will always strike out blindly. I just hope that this will give the rest of them the courage to continue to fight against him. Now we just need to purge the Zanu youths of these rogue leaders and get leaders that have the interests of the youth in their minds and are willing to make a stand against being used against innocent people..

B Moyo - 27 July 2016

Dictators never quit voluntarily. They always have to be removed.

more of the same - 27 July 2016

Police or foolice ,even a blind robot begged lives far more better life than these Mugabes' bulldogs

Mugabereka - 28 July 2016

zimbabwe is not a demorecratic country it is far from it when a countru is under dictorship then yu call it a demorecratic u are lieying to the world police beate people like snakes zunu make people to disapeare Now even me o am a fraid to fight for demorecracy

diehard - 1 August 2016

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