Amid mounting unrest in the Zimbabwe, Zanu PF youths have vowed to “violently” crush any anti-government protests as calls by the opposition for 92-year-old President Robert Robert Mugabe and his administration to step down grow louder.
The country’s capital, Harare, has seen violent protests taking place. The most recent protests were on Wednesday and Friday last week.
‘We have been fighting with MDC-T for a long time, and they have now gone too far.’
Protesters went on a rampage and destroyed property, looted goods that included shoes, food, clothing, cellphones and computer gadgets. They also set alight a truck belonging to the state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
Police responded by beating protesters with batons, fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse the crowds from the city centre. More than 60 people were arrested by police.
Zanu PF youth commissar Innocent Hamandishe told journalists at the party’s headquarters on Sunday that the youths belonging to the ruling party were ready to take the opposition head-on.
“We have been fighting with MDC-T for a long time, and they have now gone too far. We can no longer fold our arms and watch them demonstrate against our government and demolish property. We will fight side by side with the police to stop the protesters,” he said.
Harare Zanu PF provincial youth chairperson Edson Takataka issued a chilling warning against the opposition if the ongoing protests continue.
“We declare war on all opposition parties behind the protests. We know they are doing this because they do not stand a chance in the 2018 elections. We cannot let these people drag the name of our party and country into the mud,” Takataka said.
Deputy secretary Kudzai Chipanga urged his Zanu PF youth colleagues to be “on high alert”.
“Make sure you have your phones because fighting can start any time. If a party resorts to violence, it means they are afraid of losing the elections and that they do not have support,” Chipanga said.
Last week, home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo warned the security services would be on full alert to quell any violent protests.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, Chombo – flanked by defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and his state security counterpart Kembo Mohadi – said: “We will not tolerate and illegal demonstration. If they elect to march unlawfully, the police are there to protect citizens from lawbreakers.
“We have a moral duty to protect citizens of this country and people that do business so that they are not disrupted by malcontents. There is no ‘peaceful demonstration’ that has been held so far; all violent.”
Protesters who spoke to ANA have vowed to keep demonstrating against Mugabe until he steps down, saying they had “nothing else to lose”. The protests have been over several other issues including the shortage of cash, delayed salaries, electoral reforms and the economic meltdown.
There is a shutdown planned for Wednesday, such as the one witnessed in early July. Another demonstration is planned for Friday by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a grouping of 18 opposition parties calling for electoral reforms in the country ahead of the next elections in 2018.
NERA includes the former vice-president Joice Mujuru-led Zimbabwe People First and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.
– African News Agency (ANA)