ZANU PF national youth league secretary and Politburo member Pupurai Togarepi has on Wednesday given a stern warning to opposition party MDC to desist from violent protests on August 16 and declared that his party will be vigilant, Zim Morning Post can report.
Addressing journalists at the party headquarters, Togarepi stated in no uncertain terms that his party will not “stand akimbo” and watch violent demonstrations as this is tantamount to anarchy.
He acknowledged that the opposition party has a right to demonstrate as provided for in the constitution but they have no right to violence.
“ We are not going to allow to any nonsense, we are prepared to defend democracy, peace and freedom of our people without interference.
“Protests are a right in the constitution but those who threaten violence after losing elections are turning the nation into a state of anarchy and we will not stand akimbo and watch them.
We went through elections and results came out and some went to court and verdict was given,” said Togarepi.
“Whoever whether in his normal senses or drunk tries to destabilise peace we will act.
“The same constitution also gives us a right to self defence,” he added.
The Nelson Chamisa led MDC has been mobilising citizens to stage protests against the economic meltdown and socio-politico distress.
The party has promised peaceful demos but the precedence set on the August 1 killings has divided the nation.
Chamisa set August 16 as the day of national shutdown protests declaring he was ready to lead his MDC party in decisive steps to bring to an end the country’s political and economic crisis.
The planned demonstrations against President Emmerson Mnangagwa led government come at a time when Zimbabwe is facing price hikes and deterioration of basic living conditions for the general citizenry while salaries have remained stagnant.
Speaking in an interview with the Zim Morning Post, human rights activist Evan Mawarire says he is anticipating for dialogue between Mnangagwa and the Nelson Chamisa led MDC Alliance after the demonstrations.
“This is the right time to demonstrate in Zimbabwe because the political field has not changed and the economy is still deteriorating leaving us with nothing but our voice to speak against our problems and its every person’s democratic right to demonstrate,” said Mawarire.
Asked if the demonstrations would not result deaths of people like what has been seen happening lately, Mawarire maintained that everyone has the right to demonstrate regardless of past atrocities.
“Here is the chance for the government to cleanse itself from past crimes against humanity and it needs to act differently to show it is ready to reform as is always purported to the international community,” he added.
Political analyst, Enerst Mudzengi said protests work as a way of expression during times of discontent.
“Demonstrations have worked in Zimbabwe and would continue to work because their duty is to raise awareness whilst the government’s duty is to listen to people’s grievances and deal with the economic crisis in the country.”
Mudzengi further said security forces have a mandate to maintain peace in the country and act humanly when responding to protestors and not to act like they are dealing with terrorists.
“Government needs to stop viewing protesters as enemies because it is just a mere expression of the plight of the people” said Mudzengi
Richard Mahomva, a political analyst, however warned members of the opposition parties to desist from manipulating citizens into pushing their political agendas.
“The opposition should stop manipulating the gullible citizens into pushing their agenda rather allow the ruling government to work and deliver their mandate,” he said.
Mahomva further said demonstrations in Zimbabwe have never worked rather have led to the death of innocent citizens and unnecessary loss of property.
“Running under the idea of illegitimacy should come to an end now, the results of the by- elections should show MDC that majority of the population has moved past the election mode,” he added.
Mahomva said the defeat suffered by the MDC at the hands of Zanu PF in the by-elections in rural areas should be a learning curve and an eye opener to the fact that it is not the urban population alone that determines the issue of governance.
The MDC lost the Cowdray Park and Bikita West council by-elections and last week lost the Lupane West parliamentary election has called for massive demonstrations against government.