Mnangagwa returns home, VPs Chiwenga and Mohadi, security services top brass welcome him at Mugabe airport


PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa returned last night from a four-nation tour of Eurasia and was met at the RGM International Airport by his two deputies, Cabinet Ministers and service chiefs.

Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Cabinet Ministers, the security services top brass who included Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Edzai Absalom Chanyuka Chimonyo, Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Commissioner-General Paradzai Zimondi and CIO deputy director-general Aaron Nhepera were all at the airport last night to welcome him.

The President said he was happy that the country was now peaceful following a few days of opposition-led violence that resulted in loss of lives, injury and damage to property.

He had to cut short his international trip and returned home Monday, after days of protests left at least 12 people dead in a government crackdown.

President Mnangagwa said he will release a statement on deals clinched during his tour.

“Our people must concentrate on doing their work. The thrust is economic development; we must grow our economy.

“We want peace, we want unity among our people. There are channels for complaints if anyone has any complaints. This is the spirit and culture that we want as Zimbabweans to be developed.”

Protests broke out last week after Mnangagwa announced a 150 percent hike in fuel prices just before leaving on an overseas fund-raising trip.

As the protests grew, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, a former army commander, launched a widespread crackdown that saw security officials shoot demonstrators and drag people from their homes and beat them, human rights activists said.

Last Wednesday, security forces shot and killed five people and wounded 25 others in the capital city, Harare, activists said. A local doctors rights group said it had treated 68 gunshots and scores of cases of assault after Zimbabwe’s security forces broke up protests in Harare and Bulawayo.

Also Monday, police arrested Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions President Japhet Moyo as he tried to leave the country. He and another leader of the protests, the Rev. Evan Mawarire, are now facing subversion charges. Another 600 protesters are facing charges of violence.

Morgen Komichi, the vice president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused the president of directing his security forces to beat and harass activists and labor leaders involved with the protests.

The government also imposed a total internet blackout to keep protesters from coordinating their rallies. On Monday, Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered officials to restore full internet access, ruling that the Minister of State for Security, who ordered the internet shutdown, does not have power to do so.

The United Nations has called on the government to halt the “excessive use of force” by security forces. But Mnangagwa’s spokesman, George Charamba, told state-controlled media that the government would “not stand by while such narrow interests play out so violently.”

“The response so far is just a foretaste of things to come,” Charamba said.

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