We’re ready for you; Zimbabwe police warns opposition

ZRP Commissioner General Godwin Matanga

HARARE – The beleaguered government of President Mnangagwa has warned foreigners to either stay away from local politics or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema, who indicated that some foreigners — including a well-known global violence architect from Serbia — arrived in the country for MDC-Alliance demonstrations scheduled to start on Friday under the guise of being tourists.

According to State media, Mathema said MDC-Alliance has started rounding up street kids using unmarked and plate-less vehicles, whom they want to use in destroying and looting shops “in return for some goodies”.

“We are also aware that some foreign nationals are now in the country on the pretext of being tourists yet they are activists who are working closely with the opposition political parties to organise the perceived demonstrations,” said Ambassador Mathema.

“The foreigners include one who is known for masterminding the Arab Spring and the recent Sudan clashes.

“Let me remind foreigners who are dabbling in local politics that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and will not allow people disguised as tourists to come and promote anarchy and destruction of property in the country.”

MDC-Alliance and its civil society partners wants to stage violent demonstrations in the country on August 16, 19 and 20, with the hope of ousting President Mnangagwa as has been repeatedly said by party leader Nelson Chamisa and deputy national chairperson Job Sikhala.

The planned violent demonstrations are designed to coincide with the Sadc Summit in Tanzania, where Zimbabwe is expected to assume the chairmanship of the  Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

Ambassador Mathema said MDC-Alliance has sent notifications to hold the demonstrations to regulating authorities in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and other towns.

He added that Government recognised Sections 58 and 59 of the Constitution, which grant citizens freedom of assembly, association and freedom to demonstrate and petition, but said it also has a “huge responsibility” to ensure law and order was upheld in the country as enshrined in Section (219) (1) (c) and (d) of the national supreme law.

Mathema urged citizens to continue observing peace and undertake their socio-economic activities knowing fully well that the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other security services were ready to protect everyone who wants to move freely.

“The Commissioner-General of Police (Godwin Matanga) has promised the ministry that the police is ready to deal with unruly elements who want to cause alarm and despondency in the country.

“Members of the public are accordingly implored to remain calm and not be swayed into joining any violent conduct by the opposition under the pretext or guise of a ‘peaceful demonstration’,” he said.

MDC-Alliance says its demonstrations will be peaceful, but Government has observed a surge in messages threatening the prevailing peace and tranquillity.

The demonstrations have been dubbed a “march for our lives, 16th August 2019” and the “start of final push, hatidzokere kumba, asibuyeli emakhaya”.

Fliers and pamphlets seen in Epworth, Mbare, Kuwadzana, Glen View and Chitungwiza are calling on opposition activists to carry dangerous weapons with which to attack law enforcement agents during the demonstrations.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces say they will only intervene when national security is threatened.