Mnangagwa’s critics and supporters face off in Cape Town

Members of Zimbabwean opposition parties demonstrated in front of the World Economic Forum meeting on Wednesday. Photo:

Zimbabweans living in Cape Town who are members of opposition parties MDC and Zapu, hostile to the president, were surprised when Mnangagwa’s supporters from Zanu-PF emerged and settled on the same spot.

The two opposition parties have been mobilising for protests during the event that runs from 4 to 6 September. In a letter circulating on social media since last week, the opposition urged Zimbabweans to protest in large numbers. “Here is our time to show our braveness against this government. We need a government which looks after the people,” the letter read.

Zanu-PF supporters held placards reading “Well done president ED, Zimbabwe is open for business, invest in Zim today, thank you SADC for solidarity on sanctions”. Opposition supporters held placards reading “Zanu-PF you are killers and thugs, ED army killed civilians, we demand judicial independence and Zim belongs to all not Zanu-PF”.

MDC representative Chief Pfekedza described the Zanu-PF crowd as a “hired or rented audience”. He accused Zanu-PF of wasting money transporting the crowd while Zimbabwe is in shambles.

“These people are not living here,” said demonstrator Gift Mutseya.

Zapu member Nkosikhona Ndlovu said protesters had been tortured and killed and activists abducted in Zimbabwe. “We need a liberated Zimbabwe. Government is corrupt, that is what is pushing millions of us out of the country. Now we have xenophobia attacking the same oppressed people.”

ZANU-PF demonstrators were also at the World Economic Forum meeting. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

But Godfrey Tsenengamu, Zanu-PF national commissar, said only 10 leaders in the Zanu-PF group had travelled from Zimbabwe. The rest live in Cape Town.

Tsenengamu, said it was the opposition’s constitutional right to protest. “We believe in coexistence and multi party democracy. Dialogue is the way forward not confrontation.”

Tsenengamu said fixing the country was not an overnight matter but a process. The president had embarked on economic reforms such as fixing currency, attracting investors and fighting corruption.

He said about 17 people said to have been killed by the army during protests in August had been causing anarchy.

“They were looting, burning cars and stoning people. It is the duty of the government to maintain order,” Tsenengamu said. Daily Marverick