Called by the opposition as well as civil society groups, the planned July 31 protest is against alleged public sector corruption amid Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economy.
Despite warnings from authorities not to go ahead with the protests, the organisers have vowed to go ahead with or without permission.
Transform Zimbabwe leader, Jacob Ngrivhume, who called for the protests has since been arrested together with freelance journalist Hopewell Chin`ono who are both facing charges of inciting public violence.
But ZAPU said it was staying put and would not risk putting lives of a desperate population in the firing line from both state security departments and the fast-spreading coronavirus.
“We are concerned more about the high-risk citizens would be subjected to by calling them to converge and mass protest,” said the party national spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa.
“As a party we cannot be drawn into an arrangement that is a recipe for disaster in all aspects of health as the world faces the menacing coronavirus, also considering the country’s healthcare infrastructure is not capable of managing the slightest outbreak.”
Maphosa said ZAPU was not demeaning the protest, as the party was a long-standing adversary of the ‘tyrant’ regime running the country since 1980.
“In the spirit of promoting and protecting rights of Zimbabweans as enshrined in the constitution, ZAPU does not infringe on the rights of, or wish to deny those who so wish to participate in this event, they are free to do so,” he noted.
He said ZAPU’s position was also informed by the organisers’ reluctance to “engage, consult, or better still to invite” other opposition players into partnering them.
“ZAPU is dismayed by the display of double standards and selective application of both law and ethics by the organisers, whose considerable number of leaders feature prominently on lists of the corrupt looters who have milked the country dry of its resources at the expense of ordinary citizens. We demand the concerned leaders, before pointing equally dirty fingers at others, must account and subject themselves to due processes to clear their names,” Maphosa urged.
The national spokesperson said corruption was criminal, as is treasonous, whether practised nationally by the ruling party or at a local government level by the main opposition.
“There is no good corruption or looting, so all suspected of the treasonous practices must account without any pretence in the public eye. We note with interest, different views on the pending demonstration and how it has already made some heroes and others villains, while it has also made others cowards, just to interpret,” he said.
ZAPU believes in thorough strategic planning for a holistic and sustainable solution, Maphosa said, not only to corruption but all the ills and leadership deficiencies that people have endured in the past forty years.
“ZAPU stands ready with a plan for a much sustained and strategic approach that will yield meaningful change for good instead of small victories derived from influence and dictates of internal and factional dynamics of the same regime we fight.
“Piecemeal initiatives, often motivated by individuals searching for instant glory and relevance are totally out of question especially dealing with a regime so ruthless as Zanu-PF. As such, we are certain that instant popularity, gained from a moment of desperation and freedom deprivation, does not carry the magnanimity of the Zimbabwean struggle in its totality,” he said.