Zim remains on knife-edge

HARARE - There was palpable tension in the country’s major metropolitan areas of Harare and Bulawayo yesterday, despite the grouping of 18 opposition parties operating under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) cancelling today’s planned mega demonstrations across the country after government banned protests.

The planned mass actions, which would have happened at a time that President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF are facing growing public anger over the country’s deepening political and economic rot, had seen law enforcement agents beefing up their patrol corps — amid clear indications that they were readying themselves for running battles with protesters.

A panicky government yesterday invoked Statutory Instrument 101a of 2016 which bans demonstrations for the next two weeks.

An extra-ordinary Government Gazette yesterday said: “The regulating authority, believing on reasonable grounds that the powers conferred by Section 26 of the Public Order and Security Act (Chapter 11:17) will not be sufficient to prevent public disorder being occasioned by the holding of processions or public demonstrations or any class thereof in the Harare Central Police District, hereby issues this Order prohibiting, for a period of two weeks from Friday the 2nd of September, 2016 to Friday, the 16th of September, 2016, the holding of all public demonstrations in the Harare Central Police District.”

MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora issued a statement yesterday confirming that the mega demonstration had been cancelled.

He said: “The government has issued Statutory Instrument 101a of 2016 banning all demos for two weeks. We do not have enough time to appeal against the instrument before tomorrow (today) hence we have been forced to postpone our intended demo to a later agreed date.”

Earlier, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu had confirmed to the Daily News that Nera had postponed to September 16 the mammoth demonstration that had been scheduled for today.

“The demonstrations that were scheduled to be staged countrywide on Friday (today) have now been postponed to Friday, September 16, commencing at 10h00 in the various cities and towns.

“The ZRP have demanded that all the political parties that are signatory to Nera should have given them adequate notice to stage the afore-mentioned demonstrations.

“As such, it has been agreed that the political parties will continue with the demonstrations on September 16. It is the constitutional right of all citizens of Zimbabwe to stage peaceful demonstrations,” Gutu said.

On Friday, police ignored a court order and bludgeoned thousands of protestors who had gathered in Harare under the auspices of Nera, which is toyi-toying against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec’s) secretariat on account of outstanding electoral reforms, ahead of the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

The heavily armed riot police — backed by armoured trucks and water cannons — indiscriminately fired volleys of teargas at all and sundry, battering and chasing around groups of determined opposition supporters to the shock of Zimbabweans.

Zanu PF youths had also threatened to deal with protestors by “whatever means necessary” if they went ahead with their planned demo today.

“If these small parties want a showdown with Zanu PF, let them try it tomorrow (today). We will show them that we are not afraid of anyone and that we are even prepared to seek police clearance so that we can engage in a fight with them,” Zanu PF Youth League deputy secretary Kudzanai Chipanga told the Daily News.

“They should know that burning tyres and blocking roads is violence and as the ruling party we will not fold our arms and smile while they infringe on other people’s rights in the name of them having a constitutional right to demonstrate.

“In that event, we will not have a choice but to stand up in defence of the people. We can even seek a court order so that we can have a real match with them if they want violence. We are not scared of them,” Chipanga added ominously.

Similarly, police had also signalled their intention to foil the planned demos, with officers in Mutare flatly refusing to sanction today’s marches.

The officer commanding Mutare District, Nyaradzo Mupita, said the situation was too volatile across the country for any demonstration to go ahead.

“The notice given is short. It does not allow the district to make adequate preparations in respect of resource mobilisation. The Posa (Public Order and Security Act) is mandatory in respect of the period of notice. As the regulatory authority, I do not have discretional powers in this instance.

“The route being taken is too long and as has been witnessed in previous demonstrations, free movement of other people and traffic was affected.

“The need to use one lane though it is emphasized is never observed.

“The chosen venue is a flea market; temptation for theft, looting and hooliganism is rife. The police thus do not approve the demonstration,” Mupita said in a letter to Nera.

Earlier in the day, the MDC, which is a major Nera player, said it was “expecting a hostile and volatile atmosphere from both the police and Zanu PF”.

“Zimbabwe is now a de facto police state, so the worst case scenario is to expect rogue elements within the police force, together with Zanu PF thugs and hooligans, to violently descend upon peaceful demonstrators.

“However, there’s neither retreat nor capitulation. Defeat is not on the agenda. Surrender is not an option. The Zanu PF regime is cornered, desperate and intrinsically violent. Violence and thuggery is their default DNA mode.

“This is why we expect the regime to behave in its typically violent, intolerant and thuggish manner. However, the people of Zimbabwe will not be cowed into submission,” Gutu said.

The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Victor Matemadanda, had also warned Zanu PF from provoking protesters, saying this could trigger violence.

“Zanu PF will regret playing the game that they are playing right now because the moment there are groups of people fighting each other, ordinary people will take sides and given the suffering they have endured so far, it is most likely that it will be a game of numbers and Zanu PF will be outnumbered,” Matemadanda told the Daily News.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is battling to contain swelling public anger against his administration’s misrule, with Zimbabwe currently deep in the throes of a debilitating economic crisis which has resulted in thousands of companies closing their doors and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs over the past three years alone.

This has seen angry Zimbabweans holding protests across the country as they agitate for change, which analysts say could come at a heavy cost to both Zanu PF and the restive populace.

In July, riots also broke out in the border town of Beitbridge when angry traders protested against the government’s ill-advised decision to ban the importation of basic consumer goods.

More than 70 people were arrested in the aftermath of those riots which destroyed property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including the burning of a warehouse belonging to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

The riots later spread to Harare where police once again used force to break a demonstration called by commuter omnibus drivers and touts to protest too many police roadblocks on the roads which they said had become extortionate.

Meanwhile, the protests against Mugabe and Zanu PF have taken a new turn, with a group of Zimbabweans in the diaspora engaging United States President Barack Obama to pressure two international banks to starve Harare of cash.

In a social media drive, the Zimbabweans have been soliciting signatures for a petition to be handed over to Obama soon.

They want Obama’s administration to force Standard Charted Bank International and Citibank to withdraw lending support to Afrexim Bank and Exim Bank of India, which they claim are extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe.

“We ask president Obama to direct Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank to cease doing business with AfreximBank in Africa and EximBank of India.

“EximBank of India has been continually supporting and sustaining brutality in Zimbabwe by providing financial aid for military equipment which is being used to suppress the people of Zimbabwe,” the petition which requires 100 000, signatures reads.

In another plea to American authorities, a letter signed off by an individual called Concerned Zim Citizen has also made its way to the Congressional Black Caucus in the US.

According to the letter, the caucus was influential in getting Zimbabwe independent from Ian Smith’s regime, and thus could again rescue Zimbabweans from the “oppressive” Mugabe administration.

“36 years later, Zimbabwe needs your support again. The Mugabe-led government that has been in power since independence has failed its people,” the letter dated August 30 reads.

“The US rightfully implemented targeted sanctions in 2003 on certain members of our government who were undermining democratic institutions and processes in Zimbabwe. This has not been effective as the government has failed to reform. Furthermore they have failed to hold free and fair elections,” it added. — with Bernard Chiketo in Mutare

Comments (15)

freedom of expression is being abused again.Zanu should be ashamed weduwe

murambatsvina - 3 September 2016

So Zanu Pf police do not have respect for the courts and the laws and they expect opposition parties to follow the laws. It was a mistake making Mugabe a president in the first place, his rule began with a genocide in Matebeleland and he sidelined an entire region in terms of development and now he is ensuring his gestapo police do not listen to the courts and making his own laws as he wishes. He must just die wherever he is. Who cares about a leader who does not want to give others an opportunity to lead and who kills the people that he leads as he wishes if they disagree with him. Even the devil takes care of his own, Mugabe can't even take care of the country's citizens. To hell with his rule.

Proud Nguni - 3 September 2016

this thuggery and violence by the mdc and company must be put to an end,the people should not be held to ransom by election losers,demonstrations for their sake will yield nothing,the people want to just go about their business ,under this govt,the blackman has made many strides which are the envy of african countries,empowerment programmes have uplifted millions out of poverty,rural electrification,access to clean piped water and sanitation remain unparalled on the continent,yu then wonder when yu see people claiming to be graduates selling airtime,education which this govt has prioritized is not just about getting jobs but also having the ability to be enterprising,i myself apart from my attachment after leaving the UZ have never worked,i run a thriving safari after the govt empowered me with a hunting concession,am also a succesful cattle farmer in shangani,this year am embarking on tobacco farming after the minister recently allocated me prime land in mazowe,all my project have made an impact in the communities i operate,i therefore urge especially the youths to ignore the opposition parties,as western sponsored,maybe the opposition wants our youths to be lazy and replicate the much maligned unemployement benefit here,the youths arethe owners of the this country,we cannot allow a culture of violence and indolence to take root here like its happenning in southafrica,this govt is broke because it has educated hundreds of thousands of students in south african universities against the advice of western institutions which have always wanted harare to cut on its social programmes as they want the african to be in perpetual poverty

truth - 3 September 2016

Truth are you related to Chiyangwa, Mugabe or Chombo? You are indeed a success story. The same way as Chombo and Chiynagwa who now own half of Harare. No wonder you support the evil repressive regime.

Viva Unidade - 3 September 2016

@truth, you know yourself that you are untruth, and a cheap Zanu PF idiot singing for your lunch. Zanu PF, for 36 years steadily crushed all the civilization which once prevailed in this country. We are worse than we were in Rhodesia. how sad.

Mbareboy - 3 September 2016

Truth: Your comments show the decay of the regime. The multiple farm ownership, award of hunting concessions we know exactly how you were empowered. But at what cost when the country is dying. This is a very corrupt government. The only thing that is greater is the level of its incompetency.

Viva Unidade - 3 September 2016

Like Rhodesia, Zanu PF has become redundant in this rapidly changing world. To survive Zimbabwe must find leaders who are intelligent and without tribal hang ups and not these present day corrupt political dinosaurs.

Ingwe - 3 September 2016

@truth,if all farmers emulated yu and put land to productive use,zimbabwe will be a bread basket of africa again and mdc youths will demonstrate coz they will be no more southafrican imports they love so much

jojo - 3 September 2016

Shocked - 3 September 2016

Let us not forget what our president has done for us. -He has freed us from a white supremacy regime -he has brought back land to the people - he has brought black people power in their own country - he has shown what a true African leader must be. Firm. Straight forward. Knowledgeable, and hardworking. Do we not have any respect for him? We complain only about the but do we look at the good about our president and the good he has done, everyone makes mistakes here and there. But thats what makes us human. To those that say he must die, you are uncultured and uneducated and show a lack of understanding in anything that happens in your country. Those who say that it is now even worse than Rhodesian times. Do you not live in a house, do you not buy food from supermarkets where whites buy too? Let us make sensible statement and not start saying rubbish and lies out of anger. This is our Zimbabwe, you inly complain and complain because you listen to all the news and all around the country which exaggerate aituations in Zim

Shocked - 3 September 2016

Let us keep in mind that news companies and all need to make money and a living. They will always spice up stories and exaggerate to create interesting headlines that are sometimes even lies! But some silly and common senseless people still read and listen to all the shenanigans! Think for yourselves. Know your place. Don't believe everything you see and don't speak out of anger. If you read the news which is not just exaggerated and lies about our precious president and flip to business, you will see that zimbabwe is actually slowly developing! Please know your place, know your worth, have some culture and don't speak about what you don't know too much about! Please respect our president, our government and our Zimbabwe

Shocked - 3 September 2016

It is a shame for Africans to celebrate the failure of their governments under the manipulation of former slave and colonial masters. They did that when Chama-Chama Pinduzi in Tanzania fell, UNIP in Zambia, KANU in Kenya, now ZANU PF in Zimbabwe and ANC in South Africa are in trouble through the same western strategies. The difference this time is that in Zimbabwe and South Africa there are now enough blacks who understand how to dismantle the white man's strategy of trying to continue exploiting Africans and their resources.

ADF - 3 September 2016

Truth, Shocked, ADF Hands up to u guys for lifting the Zimbabwe flag high . Zimbabweans hameno kuti takaita sei we are not proud to be Zimbabwe lets just look around us and see the what God has done for us since independence. Our government has managed to sustain this independence under heavy external pressure since 1980 because varungu want this country. we should not blame the government for every fault because zvimwe zvacho tisu taka konzeresa as individuals. Big up Zimbabwe and God bless Robert Mugabe, for standing alone courageously against imperialism . Good Health Bob, Sekuru, President ,

trevor - 4 September 2016

Tinotengesa mishonga yechivanhu inobva kuMalawi isina ma side effects inorapa ma fibroids, asima, zvirwere zvepabonde, kuwedzera nguva kuti irebe, matambudziko ose epabonde, kukudza nhengo dzana baba mumazuva gumi nezvimwe zvakawanda. fonai pa 0737286007/ 0714066125,tinodhilivhara pachena muharare

CHANGA - 4 September 2016

@Truth, Shocked, Trevor and all those with open eyes, it is your responsibility to dismantle this white supremacist conspiracy meant to allow foreigners to continue exploiting Africans and their resources using the opposition parties, NGOs, churches and so-called professionals who worship white men/pale faces.

ADF - 4 September 2016

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