This comes as police say they are keen to interrogate – among others – MDC Alliance deputy chairperson Job Sikhala, the party’s youth leader Obey Sithole, secretary-general Gift Siziba and organising secretary Godfrey Kurauone on the planned demos.
In addition, authorities also want to question Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure and Tajamuka/Sesijikile leader Promise Mkwananzi in connection with the protests.
Police are also on the hunt for former Harare MDC-Alliance councillor Denford Ngadziore, former Zanu-PF youth leaders Jimmy
Kunaka and Godfrey Tsenengamu, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa, ARTUZ secretary-general Robson Chere, MDC Alliance youth spokesperson Stephen Chuma, as well as civil society activists Allan Moyo and Makomborero Haruziviishe.
The analysts who spoke the Daily News yesterday warned that the threats from Zanu-PF about the demos were serious.
“It will be foolish for anyone to ignore Zanu-PF’s threats. They are not idle threats. They should be taken with seriousness, and they should be taken as a matter of life and death.
“Those threats are well backed. You need to be a risk taker to ignore them. They are real,” respected University of Zimbabwe academic, Eldred Masunungure, said.
“However, the message has been successfully sent to Zanu-PF, even though they will refute the fact that the message on corruption has sunk into their minds.
“Secondly, re-engagement with Western powers is dead in the water for now … because re-engagement is a lower priority to Zanu-PF than maintaining power,” he added.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said it was apparent that if the protests went ahead on Friday there would be violence.
“There will be rights abuses, torture, injuries and even death, as has been the case with previous protests,” Saungweme said.
On the other hand, Human Rights Watch director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga said the statement made by Zanu-PF’s acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa on Monday showed that the ruling party was panicking.
“His baseless verbal attacks on the US Embassy and its Ambassador Brian Nichols could be the final nail in Zimbabwe’s dead international re-engagement process.
“It is back to the old days of Zimbabwe as a rogue state that is shunned by progressive members of the international community.
“Whatever hope that existed for a better Zimbabwe after (the death of Robert) Mugabe is now sadly gone. There is likely to be bloodshed,” Mavhinga said.
Meanwhile, responding to the information that police were looking for them, the wanted men said yesterday through their lawyer Agency Gumbo – who is also MDC Alliance youth secretary for legal affairs – that they would not surrender.
“In as far as it is illegal and unconstitutional, we wish to state that your invitation to our leaders to attend to your interviews is in the same manner as your future illegal directives hereby defied,” Gumbo said in a letter addressed to police spokesperson Paul Nyathi.
“We wish to state that we categorically object to your unwarranted behaviour in publishing or causing to be published the above stated names on the national broadcaster and various social media platforms as criminals.
“All of our leaders appearing on your list have attended to Law and Order on several occasions and your organisation has their contact details, including their defence counsels.
“In no certain terms, we wish to state that this behaviour makes your police force complicit to tyranny … Your behaviour in this regard is thus illegal, unconstitutional and abrogable,” Gumbo added.
Addressing a media conference in Harare on Monday, Chinamasa said ominously that the ruling party’s supporters needed no permission from anyone to “defend themselves, their families, spouses, children, property and possessions” on Friday.
“During the August 1, 2018 … and 14 January 2019 violence … our supporters phoned us from Chiredzi, Chipinge, Masvingo asking for protection. We were unable to provide them that protection and safety then.
“What we are saying to our supporters and people is that they must know that when they are attacked (on Friday), law enforcement agents may not be anywhere near the scenes of crime.
“They must know that in those circumstances, their first line of defence is themselves and their families,” Chinamasa bellowed.
“They have a legal and constitutional right to defend themselves, their families, spouses, children, property and possessions.
“Don’t ask for permission from anybody, it’s your constitutional and legal right. Don’t be intimidated by hooligans and mercenaries.
“Don’t be like sitting ducks as you were in August 2018 and January 2019 phoning us. No, this time use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves and we are saying this unambiguously,” Chinamasa added.
“We are reminding our people that self-defence is right, especially when your security is under threat from these violent protestors,” he said further.
In August 2018 and January 2019, several people were shot and killed by security forces during respective violent demonstrations over the delayed release of election results and steep fuel price hikes.
The government blamed the opposition and pro-democracy groups at the time for fomenting the violence which brought back into sharp focus Harare’s respect for constitutional freedoms and human rights.
Regarding Nichols and other Western diplomats, Chinamasa accused them of funding the opposition and some civil society groups – allegedly to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government from power.
He also warned Nichols that the he was playing with fire and would be expelled from the country for his alleged role in “funding destabilising activities by the opposition”.
“We remind … Nichols and his coterie of gangsters and mercenaries disguised as diplomats that it is high time that they get to know that Zimbabwe is a sovereign republic and full State under the Montevideo Convention (a treaty that was signed at Montevideo in Uruguay in 1933, and which codifies the declarative theory of statehood as part of customary international law).
“If he (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic, mobilising and funding disturbances, co-ordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs. Brian Nichols is a thug. Zanu-PF reminds Nichols that he is not a super diplomat in this country,” Chinamasa thundered.
“There are several diplomats that are seconded to this republic from the African Union member countries and the world over.
“They have never masqueraded and pretended to be our prefects as … Nichols is doing. Zimbabwe is not one of the states or provinces that make up the USA.
“We fought for this country to preserve it and protect it, not to surrender it to those from whom we tirelessly fought. Never in our lifetime,” Chinamasa said further.
“Christopher Dell (former USA ambassador to Zimbabwe) tried it and the shoes proved too big for him. Don’t dare!” he added.
All this comes as there are growing fears that the planned July 31 protests could turn bloody after several threats from both authorities and Zanu-PF.