Govt must act to stop senseless demos
WE find the conduct of opposition Movement for Democratic Change youths who went on the rampage destroying property, looting shops and burning vehicles during a demonstration in Harare on Wednesday totally abhorrent, uncalled for and against the letter and spirit of peaceful protests.
Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy with the right to protest enshrined in Section 59 of the supreme law but this should be done in an orderly and peaceful manner. When protests turn violent, they impinge on the rights of others and law enforcement agents have to act to protect innocent people and property from hoodlums and other malcontents bent on brewing chaos and anarchy in the country.
We reported yesterday how hordes of MDC youths burnt two pick-up trucks belonging to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the ZRP to shells before looting shops including a Choppies Supermarket along Nelson Mandela Avenue where they stole whisky and other alcoholic beverages during an illegal demonstration against alleged police brutality. The protesters intended to hand over a petition to the Minister of Home Affairs but ended up engaged in running battles with the police who were keen to restore order to a situation that had gone out of hand.
We deplore in the strongest terms the chaotic scenes which engulfed Harare and urge authorities to come down hard on the perpetrators of the violence. We contend that the patience of the police has been stretched too far and it is time they stood firm in enforcing law and order and put an end to a culture of lawlessness and impunity which seems to be taking root in the country.
Zimbabwe cannot be allowed to descend into anarchy and chaos of the scale which could render the country ungovernable. That is a frightening possibility and one which should never be allowed to happen in our lifetimes. We have watched with interest as opposition groups have been goading and taunting our security agencies over the past few months with a series of protests against one grievance after another but it seems the ultimate objective is to unleash terror and mayhem to precipitate the unconstitutional removal of a legitimately elected Government.
The country has been in protest mode for some time now and the architects of the demonstrations appear to have been testing the frontiers to see how far they can go with their grand designs. First, they torched a Zimra warehouse and destroyed property during a violent protest in Beitbridge before embarking on a series of violent demonstrations in Harare and Bulawayo. Last week, a demonstration against bond notes turned violent in Harare while a football match between Highlanders and Chicken Inn was hijacked by some elements who ended up beating a policeman within an inch of his death at Barbourfields Stadium.
Clearly, the sponsors of this terror being unleashed on the people of Zimbabwe are not satisfied with the chaos they have brewed and are keen to see more bloodshed and the collapse of the Zimbabwean State.
We have on occasion, cautioned against police heavy handedness in dealing with protests as we reasoned that this plays into the hands of anarchists and hoodlums who take advantage of the chaos to loot and commit crimes. However, following the latest violence which engulfed Harare, we feel a red line has been crossed and the law should be applied to anyone found on its wrong side.
Surely, if the intention was to hand over a petition to Minister Ignatius Chombo, why embark on an orgy of violence in the city centre and put the lives of people going about their business in danger? Do you really have to torch a ZRP or ZBC truck to get your point across? Do well meaning demonstrators pushing for an end to alleged police brutality loot cases of whisky and other alcoholic beverages from supermarkets or this is the work of lumpen elements paid to unleash chaos?
We are persuaded to agree with those who see what is happening in Zimbabwe as part of a grand plot to render the country ungovernable and push for a so-called National Transitional Authority. These demonstrations are meant to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of the upcoming Sadc Summit in Swaziland next week and the 71st United Nations General Assembly next month.
We implore Zimbabweans who are being paid to destroy their country to ponder the ramifications of their actions and put their motherland ahead of a few trinkets. We believe the best way to resolve the country’s problems is through dialogue and Government has always said it stands ready to engage any Zimbabwean on issues affecting the country. We also caution against any attempts to unconstitutionally remove President Mugabe as the nation’s security arms are equipped and ready to defend the country’s hard won independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Elections are due in 2018 and those entertaining ambitions of leading this country should bid their time and throw their hats into the ring then.