MDC protestors should 'not to expect a picnic'

 MDC protestors should 'not to expect a picnic'
Published: 17 June 2019 (257 Views)
DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri gave a chilling warning over the weekend, saying the army stands ready to crush any protests that threaten national security. This follows threats of mass protests by the main MDC opposition party and several trade unions, disenchanted with the precipitous decline in the country's economy.

In an interview with the State media over the weekend, Muchinguri-Kashiri said the army would be equal to both internal and external threats. "The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) posture on national defence and security is defensive in nature; hence, the organisation trains to meet both internal and external security threats.
"As the security situation evolves, the ZDF trains to ensure that they are ready to deal with any emerging threats".

Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also the national chairperson for Zanu-PF, spoke as a war of words has erupted between the ruling party and the MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa. Last week, the MDC youth assembly vowed to confront President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration over the worsening economic situation that has left many living from hand to mouth.

"We will not watch while citizens are being oppressed and our parents needlessly harassed. As an assembly we are very much alive to the fact that the author of all these challenges is one political party by the name Zanu-PF, which in itself is in the advanced stage of decomposition, which decomposition has been spreading cancerously to every facet of the nation," MDC youth assembly leader Tererai Obey Sithole said.

"It is against this background that the youth assembly today agreed to take a confrontational approach in dealing with this corrupt, illegitimate military regime. Confrontation is constitutionally permissible under the supreme law of this land, which we made ourselves as the people of Zimbabwe".

Zanu-PF youths retorted sharply, saying they will not just watch while their counterparts in the MDC take the country down the precipice.
"We thought we were dealing with peaceful and civilised people; now we are realising that they are uncivilised and we have to prepare ourselves; let them come onto the streets; we are ready.

"We are not going to fold our hands while they continue to insult our president. We are going to defend our president, we don't just talk they know what we can do. "We are not happy; we will teach them a lesson. We may be quiet but we are not stupid. We respect our president's call for peace and unity," Zanu-PF youth deputy secretary Lewis Matutu said.

Over the weekend, the Defence minister said the threats are aimed at disrupting government programmes and drawing international attention. She said government should not be distracted from its programmes by attention-seekers who are attempting to keep the country in a perpetual election mode until the next polls in 2023.

"The state of the country's situation is, therefore, peaceful in spite of the isolated cases of politically-motivated violence and social media-driven threats," said Muchinguri-Kashiri, who blamed the opposition parties and non-governmental organisations of seeking to tarnish the country's image.

"Judging from the negative private press reports, including adverse social media reports, it is true that frantic efforts are being made by opposition political parties, supported by some non-governmental organisations, to tarnish the good image of the ZDF. Despite these detractions, the ZDF have continued to discharge their mandate internally and internationally very well.

"They are doing everything in their power to maintain a good image through improving the civil-military relations as they engage in a number of community-related projects throughout the year. Some of these are: ZDF Day celebrations, participation in schools' career days, provincial and national shows and countrywide assistance projects and programmes," she said.

Recently, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema warned the opposition and civic society organisations following reports they were plotting to protest. Several civil society leaders were subsequently arrested on allegations of seeking to unseat Mnangagwa.

Since then, the security sector has been on high alert, amid reports that the police imported an assortment of weapons, including 3 343 AK-47 assault rifles and about 600 sniper rifles, in anticipation of the looming protests. Police is also further said to have acquired water cannons and teargas canisters.

These new acquisitions are coming at a time a dark cloud is hanging over the country as the economy continues to tank with prices of basic commodities going up by more than six times in the last six months, while salaries of ordinary citizens have remained stagnant.

Since November 2017, when the army stepped in to remove former president Robert Mugabe from power, after 37 years of misrule, the military has been deployed twice to disperse protesters. In August last year, six people were shot dead while several people were injured when the army was deployed to quell protests by the MDC over delays in the release of poll results.

In January this year, 12 people were killed during protests called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions against a 150 percent increase in fuel prices.

- dailynews

Tags: MDC,
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