ZANU PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has warned his government is ready to use brute force to deal with any violent protests in the country.
Mnangagwa unleashed the army in January this year, to crush anti-government demonstrations organised by labour federation the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions that turned into an orgy of violence across the country.
At least 17 people were killed after the army used live ammunition against protestors while dozens were left with gunshot wounds. Mnangagwa told a meeting of the Zanu PF central committee Friday, that such protests would no longer be tolerated.
“I am assuring the party that government is putting in place measures to ensure that the illegal, criminal and divisive elements of January 14 to 16 disguised as protesters will never happen again,”said Mnangagwa.
He added: “Government will take stern measures against any violence in this country. We will not tolerate any violence at all. Those who want to demonstrate must do it peacefully and that is allowed by the Constitution.”
Mnangagwa paid tribute to Zanu PF structures for “showing great restraint in the face of such provocations as of the 14th of January.”
Reports at the time suggested there had been a plan by Zanu PF youths to confront the protesters in what could have turned into an explosive situation.
In August last year, the army also killed six people after protests by pro-opposition supporters who were demanding the release of presidential election results.
Mnangagwa was forced to cut-short his four nation tour of Euro-Asia in January, to return home to deal with the protests that rocked the country and shut-down business for a week. The demonstrations were in response to his decision to hike fuel prices by 150% which had a domino effect on the prices of basic commodities.
Critics of the Zanu PF government have accused Mnangagwa of keeping a default position of using excessive force each time citizens take to the streets to protest against his policies.
The opposition MDC has declared it would use all constitutional means at its disposal to force Mnangagwa “to return the country to legitimacy” after disputed elections last year in which its candidate Nelson Chamisa was defeated.
An attempt to overturn the results at the Constitutional Court fell through for lack of evidence but Chamisa insists he won the presidential election.