‘Western em­bassies be­hind protests’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Harare Bureau

FOR­EIGN coun­tries that have been spon­sor­ing vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions through op­po­si­tion par­ties and their prox­ies in the civil so­ci­ety have fi­nally come out in the open.

Demon­stra­tors drawn from mainly MDC-T and their ap­pendages in the civil so­ci­ety, have been loot­ing shops, burn­ing cars, block­ing roads, ston­ing cars and de­stroy­ing prop­erty as well as at­tack­ing in­no­cent peo­ple who were go­ing about their busi­ness in Harare.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, the United States, Cana­dian and Aus­tralian em­bassies is­sued sep­a­rate state­ments sup­port­ing the vi­o­lent protests and con­demn­ing law en­force­ment agents for main­tain­ing peace and or­der by rein­ing in the hood­lums.

The state­ments were meant to co­in­cide with a demon­stra­tion that flopped in Harare yes­ter­day.

“The United States is trou­bled by the eco­nomic poli­cies and fi­nan­cial strains that have prompted nu­mer­ous re­cent protests in Zim­babwe and we join many Zim­bab­weans in their deep con­cern over re­ports of vi­o­lence dur­ing some of the protests,” reads the state­ment re­leased by the US Em­bassy in Harare yes­ter­day.

“The United States sup­ports free­doms of speech and assem­bly and we call on the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe to ex­hibit res­traint and re­spect the hu­man rights of all Zim­bab­wean cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing those ba­sic rights.”

While the US em­bassy said it sup­ported non-vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions, it did not con­demn the vi­o­lence in­sti­gated by op­po­si­tion el­e­ments over the last few months that led to the de­struc­tion of prop­erty.

The US Em­bassy also said it was “mon­i­tor­ing re­cent threats to crack­down on ac­tivists us­ing so­cial me­dia”.

On the other hand, the Cana­dian Em­bassy said: “The Em­bassy of Canada to Zim­babwe is in­creas­ingly con­cerned with re­ports of vi­o­lence and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in re­sponse to pub­lic protest.

“The Em­bassy of Canada calls for calm and stresses the im­por­tance of peace­ful di­a­logue. The Em­bassy of Canada re­it­er­ates its call on all stake­hold­ers to re­spect the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zim­babwe, in par­tic­u­lar, the free­dom to peace­fully demon­strate, the right to per­sonal lib­erty, the right to per­sonal se­cu­rity and the rights of ar­rested and de­tained per­sons.’’

On its part, the Aus­tralian em­bassy said it shared the “con­cerns of many Zim­bab­weans at the vi­o­lence, which has oc­curred over re­cent weeks in Zim­babwe.

“The use of vi­o­lence is not ac­cept­able un­der any cir­cum­stance. The Aus­tralian Em­bassy wishes to em­pha­sise that the rule of law, re­spect for hu­man rights, right to free speech, free­dom of assem­bly and other demo­cratic free­doms are at the heart of the Zim­bab­wean Con­sti­tu­tion and must be re­spected by all par­ties.

“We en­cour­age the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe to en­sure the demo­cratic free­doms of all Zim­bab­weans are fully pro­tected.”

But po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts said their state­ments vin­di­cated Gov­ern­ment po­si­tion that some of these coun­tries spon­sored the cur­rent protests.

“While we hear those em­bassies glee­fully rub­bing their hands at the chaos, we did not hear them con­demn­ing the vi­o­lence be­ing per­pe­trated by these el­e­ments,” said po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and lawyer, Mr Ter­rence Hus­sein.

“Gov­ern­ment must only be guided by the Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws of Zim­babwe. If they feel the laws are be­ing vi­o­lated then they must act ac­cord­ingly.”

Chair­per­son of the Par­lia­men­tary Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs, Cde Kind­ness Paradza said the state­ments vin­di­cated Gov­ern­ment po­si­tion that Western coun­tries were be­hind the cur­rent wave of vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions.

“All along, we have been say­ing these coun­tries and their al­lies are spon­sor­ing il­le­gal regime change in Zim­babwe over the years through all sorts of machi­na­tions with the lat­est one be­ing these vi­o­lent protests tar­get­ing prop­er­ties.

“As the com­mit­tee on For­eign Af­fairs, we warn these em­bassies and their Gov­ern­ments that their free­dom ends where ours be­gin.

“They must not in­ter­fere in our in­ter­nal af­fairs. What they must know is that we are dif­fer­ent from Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. Our se­cu­rity forces have the ca­pac­ity to deal with these hooli­gans,” said Cde Paradza.

Le­gal prac­ti­tioner, Mr Tendai Toto, said it was im­por­tant for the em­bassies to also con­demn vi­o­lence that was be­ing per­pe­trated by pro­tes­tors.

“It is right that these em­bassies take con­struc­tive diplo­matic ef­forts to help ad­dress con­cerns iden­ti­fied.

“Equally weighty ef­forts must be at­tached to de­nounc­ing vi­o­lence and de­struc­tion of pri­vate and pub­lic owned prop­erty and the vi­o­la­tion of equally valid and guar­an­teed free­doms of oth­ers along­side the calls for the re­spect and pro­tec­tion of the free­doms of ex­pres­sion and assem­bly that un­der­pin the oc­cur­rences and ex­e­cu­tion of the demon­stra­tions,” said Mr Toto.

Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa (third from left), his wife Cde Aux­ilia, De­fence Min­is­ter Cde Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi (left) and his broth­ers dur­ing the burial of his el­der brother Mr Philip Mnan­gagwa

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