A top MDC Alliance executive yesterday ruled out the possibility of entering into another South Africa-mediated government of national unity (GNU) and threatened to scale up mass protests to force out President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “corrupt government”.
Speaking to NewsDay from his hideout, MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala said: “There are moments and times we must put a stop to all the evil around us. Zimbabwe cannot continue on this self-destructive path imposed on the nation by Mnangagwa’s rogue regime.”
Sikhala said although the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance welcomed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to send envoys to cool down political tension in Zimbabwe, they would resist attempts to force them into a unity government with Zanu PF.
This was in reference to the 2009-13 GNU between Zanu PF and the two MDCs which was facilitated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of Sadc.
The opposition claims Zanu PF emerged the main beneficiary of the unity government, although it had lost the presidential race to the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Any attempt to seek an elite political settlement where the usual political suspects will get into an incestuous political relationship will be totally rejected.
“The current struggle of the masses has outgrown individual and political organisations’ narrow interests. People want to be the main stakeholders to the state of affairs. They want a raft of institutional and governance reforms to entrench public interest.
“As long as the attendant issues of the masses are not attended to, democratic expression will be action without end. We have now resolved that the democratic struggle must now be without end until all issues are attended to.
“We are now not going to announce our next move. We will just act without announcement until people’s victory. It’s now action without ceasing,” said Sikhala, who was recently forced into hiding by State security agents who stormed his Chitungwiza home ahead of protests planned for July 31.
He added: “How would a normal government call its citizens terrorists simply because they have called on it to put an end to looting and corruption? Such an arrogant and heartless response requires a response in equal measure from all of us. This is our country and we cannot continue to allow perverse and intolerable behaviour to go unchallenged.
“In terms of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, all Executive, Legislative and Judiciary authority is derived from the people. Terrorists and dark forces can only be agents of the rogue regime that are abducting, torturing, sexually assaulting and murdering Zimbabweans who are targeted only for political reasons.
“Rather than for Mnangagwa to end the scourge of corruption and looting, he has unleashed State security elements to abduct, torture, maim and intensify human rights abuses,” Sikhala said.
Sikhala’s call for mass protests came as South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema urged Zimbabweans to stop social media campaigns and confront Mnangagwa’s government head-on on the streets.
Speaking at an EFF women’s rally yesterday, Malema said Zimbabwean youths should stop fighting from South Africa and London, where most economic and political refugees fled to.
“Why is the youth of Zimbabwe not rising in Zimbabwe and facing death because they are already dead? Our own comrades must stop the hashtag revolution and engage in the real revolution. They supported us during our struggle (against apartheid) and we must support them now,” he said.
“Zimbabweans are not cowards, Zimbabweans have fought before. Why is the youth of Zimbabwe fighting through hashtags? Why is the youth of Zimbabwe fighting from South Africa and London? Why are they not occupying borders in Musina? We will support them.”
Added Malema: “Mnangagwa has become a pig and he is eating his own children in Zimbabwe. He is no different to (Cyril) Ramaphosa. When they came in, we had hope for change, but things have become worse.
“We are here at mama (Winnie Mandela)’s grave to talk about the rights of women because she was the champion of that. Yet, next door in Zimbabwe, the rights of the people of Zimbabwe are being violated, particularly the rights of women.”
Mnangagwa recently ruthlessly clamped down on dissent by arresting political activists and journalists, a move that has received global condemnation, with the United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres warning last week that he was “following developments in Zimbabwe with concern”.
The UN boss urged Mnangagwa to protect fundamental rights, particularly the freedoms of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission also slammed increasing cases of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, with its spokesperson Liz Throssell saying citizens should not be persecuted for protesting peacefully.
But police yesterday said they would not allow any form of protests during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
“Our duty is to maintain peace. Any attempts to incite people to engage in protests during the COVID-19 restriction period will be foiled. People must know that we are in COVID-19 restriction period and we will arrest people for breaching those restrictions.
“People must protect their life from this virus. If they try to grandstand, they will be affected by coronavirus. This disease is real,” national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said he would only respond to Malema and Sikhala’s threats after reading their statements.
United Kingdom-based political analyst Wilbert Mukori said the opposition should not expect Ramaphosa to talk tough on Mnangagwa as they were fellow comrades.
“President Ramaphosa and Sadc will not talk Mnangagwa and Zanu PF to step down since they have already endorsed the Zanu PF regime as legitimate. Once again, we are where we are. What can be done to move forward? South Africa and Sadc must swallow their pride and acknowledge that the 2009-2013 GNU failed to deliver the desired democratic reforms and to stop Zanu PF rigging elections,” Mukori said.
“They must also acknowledge that their endorsement of Zanu PF as the winner of the July 2018 election has left them with no political leverage to force Mnangagwa to step down, a prerequisite for getting the reforms finally implemented.
“President Ramaphosa and Sadc must approach the UN or some such other nation that is not compromised to chart a roadmap to get Zanu PF to step down and then appoint a competent body to implement the reforms.”
— News Day