MDC-T must stop its paramilitary agenda
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.