President Robert Mugabe on Friday sent a warning to opposition parties and pressure group leaders that his government was running out of patience with them in the face of violent protests that have taken Zimbabwe by a storm.
Addressing a Zanu PF central committee meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare, the 92-year-old leader said his government would not watch from a distance and said those breaking the law must be punished.
“Lately, we have seen how the MDC has joined other political groups under NERA [National Electoral Reform Agenda]. They are calling on the tightening of sanctions on us, which they believe is going to hurt us severely. They are compelling our people to rally against us and the Zanu PF government. The demonstrations we have witnessed in the last weeks are not by accident, but they are well-choreographed under a misguided belief that the time for a popular uprising against Zanu PF was ripe,” Mugabe said.
“Let the MDC and other opposition parties be warned that our patience has limits and we are definitely going to run out of it [patience]. Government will take severe measures against those engaging in violent protests. Anyone breaking the law must certainly be punished.
“Zanu PF remains alive and does not need to be reminded of the continuing everyday economic challenges that face our people. The concocted demonstrations are distracting us from concentrating on our concerted effort to address the economy for the benefit of our people.”
Mugabe said the violent demonstrators were playing a “very dangerous game” and would “not win the war”.
“We don’t want those who will cry, saying there is no more democracy when we go for them. Democracy does not mean destroying people’s property, beating up people and looting. We are there to defend true democracy, which is peace and nonviolence,” he said.
He warned the protesters and their leaders that if they took actions that “are painful, they only have themselves to blame”.
“Most of them have never been in a prison cell, where food will be thrown to them and ordered to eat facing their own waste,” Mugabe said.
Zimbabwe has been characterised by violent protests in the past few weeks, where pressure groups have called for a shutdown.
Among those leading the protests are #Tajamuka, and previously, was #ThisFlag, a social media campaign which was led by exiled cleric Evan Mawarire.
Recently, NERA — a grouping of 18 opposition political parties calling for electoral reforms in the country — also added its voice on the mass protests.
However, Mugabe attacked the group and accused them of inciting anarchy so foreign governments could intervene, adding the electoral conditions the opposition parties were fighting against would remain in place even when the 2018 polls are conducted.
Barely two weeks ago, Zanu PF youths declared war on opposition parties and their supporters, vowing to “violently” crush any anti-government protests.
The threats by the ruling party’s youth wing came as protesters torched cars and second-hand clothes for resale worth thousands of dollars, looted from shops and destroyed property.
The protesters accused the Zanu PF government of running down the country and reneging on its 2013 election promises of creating 2.2 million jobs, and instead, saying they had rendered thousands jobless.
After the violent protests, the last major one being on August 26, the police, on September 1, issued an order purportedly under the Public Order and Security Act, as Statutory Instrument 101a of 2016, which bans protests in the capital’s central business district for a two week period ending next Friday.
– African News Agency (ANA)