Strikes and Dollarisation: Mnangagwa govt raises national security conspiracy threat

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe's president, center, arrives for a meeting of the Zimbabwe Business Club in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Thursday Jan. 18, 2018. Mnangagwa shows no bitterness toward Robert Mugabe, who he served as a right-hand man through the liberation war against Rhodesia and since independence in 1980, and still calls an “icon.” Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will soon announce “extraordinary” measures aimed at ending the crisis in the country’s public health system as the government claims an opposition hand in the ongoing strike by junior doctors.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba confirmed  Wednesday that his boss was cutting short his vacation as the devastating strike entered its second month.

The government is now considering the industrial action a “state security issue”.

Charamba insisted that Mnangagwa’s return does not mean that acting president Constantino Chiwenga had failed to deal with the crisis.

“Administratively and legally, there is a limit to powers which an Acting President can wield,” Charamba told the government-controlled Herald newspaper.

“It (Mnangagwa’s return) is also meant to send a clear signal to the striking doctors that this is not a Chiwenga issue.

“And in any event, the style has always been that the Acting President consults with the substantive President.

“Now in this particular case we have a serious situation in the health sector involving lives and, naturally, the President has to demonstrate concern and that concern comes by way of cutting short his leave in order to work closely with the Acting President so that consultations are short circuited.”

Joint Operations Command

Charamba said “extraordinary” decisions would soon be announced and also revealed that Joint Operations Command – comprising security services chiefs – had also met over the crisis.

“When you see levers of State security coming into the game then you know it is no longer child’s play,” he said.

“Government is treating this matter as a serious one because it involves lives. Because it is serious, we are set to see extraordinary decisions being taken to put an end to this issue once and for all.

“We will not have any such development ever again in this country. We have had enough, and the time has now come for us to take a very definitive position on the matter.

“We have a whole raft of measures that we are going to take and to the extent that some of the measures will have budgetary implications, it means the President has to be back.

“On (Tuesday), the Acting President briefed the President right into close to midnight. They were working and this is where most of the decisions were taken.”

The government has also claimed, without evidence, that the opposition and anti-administration NGOs are involved in the industrial action.

Charamba vowed that the proof would soon be put in the public domain.

They (opposition) must get out of the issue between the doctors and Health Services Board. There is no place absolutely and they better be warned,” he said.

“We have human and constitutional rights which can be enjoyed by any and every citizen, but all these rights are predicated on the right to life.

“The matter on hand relates to right to life and once we pit that against all other rights, the rest of the rights become second order rights.

“We will be releasing more information regarding sinister plots which were being done by opposition parties and their NGOs.

“These include minutes of the two meetings they recently held. We will be making those available to the public domain. That is why we are treating it as a state security issue.”