Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has blasted President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying he is the chief culprit in causing violence against innocent Zimbabweans.
While addressing Zanu-PF supporters in Mwenezi on Saturday last week, Mnangagwa blamed the opposition for the violent demonstrations that resulted in the death of over a dozen people and ominously warned that he would deploy the army to crush any dissent.
“They (the MDC) are planning violence but we would like to say to everyone in the country that if you are against peace, be part of them those who want peace, stay at home, so that we deal with those that want violence. We will deal with them. If you are invited to the demonstrations don’t join them,” said Mnangagwa.
Last month, disgruntled workers downed tools in protest over fuel price hikes and the ever-increasing cost of living that has rendered many people’s salaries worthless.
To quell the protests, Mnangagwa dispatched the military in a clampdown that was condemned by the world due to its heavy-handedness as well as reports of rape and torture of unarmed civilians.
In a chilling response to Mnangagwa’s warning, Chamisa said the sentiments proved that the ruling party leader is the one causing violence.
“If anyone ever doubted the source of the orgy of violence against Zimbabweans, this video (in which Mnangagwa is warning opposition) is your answer. How can a party leader in a country take such sadistic pleasure in the beating up of his fellow countrymen that he is supposed to be protecting? Is this the new dispensation?”
He added that the country needs urgent reforms to end violence.
“Zimbabwe needs urgent reforms. We must build this great country, unite the nation, grow the economy and prosper all through a political solution that unleashes citizens’ creative energies for prosperity. Stand ready to usher the nation into virtual cycles of happiness, glitter and glory.
“ED shocks me all the time. He forgets that life belongs to the Maker and he was also made and therefore he is not the Maker. I pray for him to realise that Jesus is coming soon and we shall all answer for our acts, deeds and words on this soon to come day. Jesus is Lord!”
Other political observers said Mnangagwa does not know how to differentiate between legal and illegal protests.
“Criminalising dissent! ED demonstrates inability to distinguish between legal and illegal protest. Perhaps fitting in a country where the law is so elastic. We must condemn violent protest, but most protests in Zim were not violent,” Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group said.
The Thokozani Khupe-led MDC vice president Obert Gutu said Zimbabwe is still suffering ugly scars from the ravages of colonial exploitation as well as the emotional experiences of the armed liberation struggle and since independence, the country has never experienced peace.
“Our leaders, or is it rulers, have always emphasised the power of might over right. We are, indeed, a very angry and tormented nation. Brother is rising up against brother, sister against sister, uncle against aunt and so on and so forth. We need genuine and holistic national healing.
“As politicians, we should desist from using the inflammatory language of violence and intolerance in both our private and public spaces. Violence is like a Frankenstein monster, it devours both the victim and the perpetrator.”
Gutu said Mnangagwa must stop using the soldiers to quell protests.
“The army belongs to the barracks; it’s as simple as that. They should only be deployed in exceptional circumstances to defend and uphold our territorial integrity as well as to maintain and protect national security.
“Protests should always be peaceful as is envisaged in Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and in similar measure; the government should resist the temptation to use disproportionate force to quell civil disobedience. Put simply, the government shouldn’t use a sledge hammer to kill a fly.”
Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo said the comments were divisive.
“Many who do not understand chiShona have asked for an English translation of this video clip with utterly shocking, emotive and divisive remarks made by Mnangagwa in Mwenezi, Masvingo, yesterday.”
Former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart said Mnangagwa is out of order.
“Mnangagwa’s comments on Saturday threatening doctors and lawyers who have provided assistance to victims of #Crimesagainsthumanity committed by Zimbabwean State agents mark a new low in #Zimbabwe. When human rights defenders are attacked like this the world needs to act.”