MDC-T must stop its para­mil­i­tary agenda

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

THE vi­o­lent op­po­si­tion demon­stra­tions that have been oc­cur­ring in parts of the coun­try are un­called for. They dis­turb peace and tran­quil­ity, cre­ate bad Press for the coun­try and can drive in­vestors and tourists away. We have seen them in Chi­tung­wiza, Beit­bridge, and Bu­l­awayo and more reg­u­larly in Harare where on Wed­nes­day and Fri­day last week hood­lums as­saulted mem­bers of the pub­lic, burnt two po­lice and Zim­babwe Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion ve­hi­cles and looted shops. They are be­com­ing a weekly oc­cur­rence in­deed.

It is en­cour­ag­ing though that the demon­stra­tions have not grown to the more mas­sive ex­tent their driv­ers MDC-T, Zim­babwe Peo­ple First and Western em­bassies want them to. They have re­mained clearly lo­calised.

We are con­fi­dent that peace-lov­ing Zim­bab­weans who un­der­stand that gov­ern­ments must not be re­moved through street protests would con­tinue go­ing about their busi­nesses, while law en­force­ment agents re­main on top of the sit­u­a­tion.

But week­end re­ports that the MDC-T has ac­tu­ally trained some of its youths in para­mil­i­tary tac­tics and sys­tem­atic ur­ban vi­o­lence con­cern us.

We are not too sur­prised that there ap­pears to be some ba­sic mil­i­tary train­ing in some of the an­ar­chists if one crit­i­cally analy­ses the rarely seen con­fronta­tional na­ture of the protests. In some cases the thugs are ac­tu­ally phys­i­cally at­tack­ing po­lice of­fi­cers. At First Street Po­lice post in Harare, for ex­am­ple, of­fi­cers had to re­treat af­ter an op­po­si­tion ac­tivist tossed a tear­gas can­is­ter into their sta­tion. We ask our­selves where the youths got such brazen courage to ac­tu­ally take on a law en­force­ment agent, in pub­lic.

Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Dr Ig­natius Chombo was quoted in our sis­ter pa­per, The Sun­day Mail say­ing yes­ter­day: “There is in­tel­li­gence which we are gath­er­ing, and in­di­ca­tions are that th­ese peo­ple have been trained out­side Zim­babwe to carry out th­ese acts. In due time, we will ex­pose what they have been do­ing be­hind the scenes lead­ing up to th­ese protests be­cause a lot has been hap­pen­ing.

As Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe cor­rectly al­luded to in his speech on (Fri­day), th­ese peo­ple are plot­ting an ‘Arab Spring’ strat­egy to re­move the sit­ting Gov­ern­ment of Zanu-PF. “They re­ally think they have gone a gear up, but it will not work here. We are aware of th­ese op­po­si­tion lead­ers who are lead­ing th­ese acts and very soon, they are go­ing to be made to ac­count for their deeds.”

MDC-T and ZimPF lead­ers must be strongly warned that the mil­i­tary el­e­ment that they want to in­grain into their quest for po­lit­i­cal power will leave them gnash­ing their teeth. We say this be­cause they can­not train their thugs and send them to take on law en­force­ment agents, who them­selves are mil­i­tar­ily trained, and ex­pect a soft re­sponse.

It would ob­vi­ously be a bare-knuck­led clash which the op­po­si­tion would lose. We don’t want the sit­u­a­tion to de­te­ri­o­rate to that ex­tent. We are sure many Zim­bab­weans have not for­got­ten the orgy of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence that the MDC pros­e­cuted over the years, but mostly be­tween 15 and 25 March 2007 that tar­geted po­lice sta­tions in Harare, Chi­tung­wiza, Mutare and Gweru.

Three po­lice­women were badly hurt in a petrol bomb at­tack at Marimba Po­lice Camp in Harare at mid­night while a po­lice post in Mkoba, Gweru, was also bombed on the same night in at­tacks that ap­peared to be co­or­di­nated. We re­mem­ber the hor­rific pic­ture of then Con­sta­ble Pretty Rush­waya sit­ting on her hospi­tal bed show­ing a face burnt fol­low­ing the petrol-bomb at­tack. Con­sta­ble Brenda Makamba, also of Marimba Po­lice Camp, was also a vic­tim of a sim­i­lar at­tack.

So when the MDC-T goons do what they have been do­ing over the past few days, or weeks, we are re­minded of the vi­o­lent streak the party has al­ways shown over the past 17 years.

We de­nounce it and de­mand that Mr Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai and his new-found ac­com­plices, ZimPF’s Dr Joice Mu­juru and Mr Didy­mus Mu­tasa stop their dan­ger­ous games and call their boys to or­der.

Al­ready, fears abound that if their ac­tiv­i­ties con­tinue, as Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Min­is­ter, Wal­ter Mzembi says else­where in this is­sue, the travel and tourism sec­tor might start tak­ing a knock. He ex­pressed the fear that source mar­kets might start is­su­ing travel warn­ings, dis­cour­ag­ing peo­ple in those coun­tries from visit­ing Zim­babwe.

“Af­ter a good day’s work, month or years as has been the case with tourism, peo­ple have cho­sen to re­verse our work by their ac­tions,” he said. “Re­cent events and protests have hurt tourism and Zim­babwe badly. Tourism can­not pack­age and sell con­flict. We’ve suc­ceeded to date in repo­si­tion­ing Brand Zim­babwe, largely be­cause de­spite na­tional dif­fer­ences, they’ve not trans­lated into pub­lic con­flict to the ex­tent where it con­sti­tutes a se­cu­rity threat war­rant­ing travel ad­vi­sories, which we suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated away in 2009. Any­one who seeks to gov­ern one day, or form al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment must in­vest in peace. We should all roundly re­ject vi­o­lence of any shade as a means of ex­pres­sion of our Zim­bab­weaness! We fought for democ­racy to make the bal­lot box the theatre of change, not street fight­ing. So any­one who as­pires to gov­ern must in­vest in peace, di­a­logue and su­pe­rior ideas. So let’s get off the streets, ex­er­cise mu­tual tol­er­ance for our di­verse po­si­tions and meet in con­fer­ence rooms like the ed­u­cated and en­light­ened peo­ple we are and de­sign the Zim­babwe we want.”

We to­tally agree with him and the Pres­i­dent who has al­ready pro­nounced the Gov­ern­ment’s un­hap­pi­ness with the op­po­si­tion ef­forts to spread an­ar­chy with the goal of un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally re­mov­ing the Gov­ern­ment from of­fice.

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