The Sunday Mail
Government will not brook unlawful demonstrations as law enforcement agents stand ready to resolutely safeguard the peace and tranquillity that currently exists in the country, Home Affairs and Culture Heritage Minister Cain Mathema has said.
His remarks come in the wake of MDC’s announcement that it will be staging protests on Friday to put pressure on the current political administration.
Police has since advised that they are still considering the notice by the MDC before announcing its position.
Minister Mathema told The Sunday Mail that while Government fully recognises people’s Constitutional right to demonstrate, lawlessness would not be tolerated.
“We have heard of the call for demonstrations by the MDC on the 16th of August and our position is that we do not disallow legal and Constitutional demonstrations.
“Demonstrations must be in line with the Constitution and in line with other laws of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“My job is to preside over law and order; anything that does not follow law and order, we will not accept and our law enforcement will deal with it accordingly.”
Demonstrations, Minister Mathema said, must not affect other law-abiding citizens who seek to go about their normal business.
“The space in Zimbabwe belongs to all of us, which is why we have to regulate who is demonstrating along which path and how this will affect the business of everyone else.
“We will not allow demonstrations that impinge upon the rights of others.”
Previous demonstrations by the MDC and its allies have led to fatalities and wanton destruction of property, particularly on August 1 last year and January this year.
Of late, MDC figures, including the party’s vice chairperson, Job Sikhala, have been intimating that demonstrations should lead to the transfer of power or power-sharing negotiations with Government. In its petition to the police, the MDC indicates that the demonstration has been occasioned by the “legitimacy crisis”.
However, last year the Constitutional Court dismissed Nelson Chamisa’s election petition challenging the results of the Presidential elections.
Election observer missions, which included the EU and the Americans for the first time in over 16 years, also did not see any anomalies that could change the will of the electorate.
Minister Mathema said: “President Mnangagwa was legitimately elected and we even had a record number of foreign observer missions which came here. After the results were announced, the opposition went to the courts to challenge that decision. We did not force them to court, neither did we force them to go for the election.
“The courts gave a final decision on the matter, which meant that President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy cannot be contested in any way.
“We cannot fold our hands if people make such serious threats. We will not allow them to abuse their freedom of expression or freedom to hold demonstrations.
“We know that the MDC has a history of being violent during elections. They have to be careful in their call for demonstrations.”
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said it will issue an official response.
“The ZRP acknowledges receipt of MDC-A notification on the intended demonstration on 16 August 2019. However, the police reiterates that considerations are still being made on the notification and the official response is yet to be given to the concerned convener,” it said in a statement.
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) secretary-general Mr Kenias Shamuyarira urged workers to shun the MDC’s call for demonstrations as the move had nothing to do with their welfare.
“Workers must not be part of such protests which have nothing to do with labour issues. We urge all companies and businesses to come to work as usual because this is not a labour issue and it may further affect production.
“As workers, we now have the Tripartite Negotiation Forum, which was recently legislated and provides a comprehensive framework for all workers grievances to be discussed.”
Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) chairperson Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said the MDC protests are a part of Mr Nelson Chamisa’s misguided ambitions to usurp State power.
“Why on earth would a proud national resort to an uprising against their own State apparatus? Such wayward thinking is the hare-brain wish of the political day-dreamer that is Chamisa and his political greenhorns. Their folly arises from conflating the political party Zanu-PF and the State. To have an attitude against a party should not, of the misplaced necessity, lead to the treacherous conduct of challenging the Zimbabwe State. Such an act is the realm of treason.
“The second fallacy is that uprisings can be prompted by an on-off electrical switch of the indigent ambition of young Chamisa.
‘‘He is either too lazy or too scared to read about the long road travelled by President Emmerson and his generation to power. They took extraordinary risks of which Chamisa plainly avoids even as he craves power so much. Will he place his own life on the line for the cause of personal political power he pontificates about?”