THE deadly military and police crackdown against protesters over the past week which left at least 12 people dead was just a “foretaste of things to come”, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman has warned.
George Charamba made the ominous remarks from the Azerbaijan, the latest stop in President Mnangagwa’s five-nation tour which so far seen him visit Russia and Belarus.
The country was effectively shut down for much of last week after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called a stay-at-home protest against fuel prices increases.
Widespread violence and rampant looting of shops however characterised the first day of the protest with activists blockading roads using burning tyres and rocks.
Government responded by unleashing armed police and soldiers with rights groups saying the crackdown left at least 12 dead, while 78 were shot and more than 240 have faced “assault, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment”.
The embattled administration claims the opposition MDC party was behind the protests as part of plans aimed at either overturning the results of disputed July 30 elections or forcing the establishment of another unity government.
“Government will not stand by while such narrow interests play out so violently. The response so far is just a foretaste of things to come,” Charamba told the Sunday Mail from the Azerbaijan capital, Baku.
He was adamant that the MDC was behind the protests, dismissing the ZCTU as “member-less and moribund”.
According to Charamba, it was not a coincidence that the violent protests were concentrated in MDC strongholds.
“It’s their constituency, their politics and their programme; and all the co-ordinates of violence are on (MDC leader Nelson) Chamisa’s desk and he knows it,” he said.
“The member-less and moribund ZCTU cannot claim to have galvanised or mobilised workers.
“If anything, we are seeing a reactivation of the 1999 structures which unleashed violence on society, where MDC and ZCTU had that filial relationship.
“This means the response of the State must deal with both the wayward parent and the wayward child, which is exactly what is going to happen.”
Charamba further blasted Chamisa and the MDC’s international backers saying that, if the idea behind the protests was “to constrain Government and force a GNU, they are terribly mistaken”.
“The poise of pastor-ship and scriptural nattering Chamisa is indulging in will not stand in the way of justice, nothing will take away the devilry that he represents.
“He thinks he can find his way to State House on the blood of Zimbabwean people,” said Charamba.
“As for those dark forces backing the MDC and its allies, let them look at the unmitigated violence they have wrought via their agents.
“They should not expect us to take them seriously when they bemoan disruption of internet services at a time (when) they want the whole nation to be burning and moaning about the losses brought by their own agents.”