THE opposition MDC has described as disappointing utterances by war veteran leaders threatening violence, claiming such recklessness ultimatums will only cause alarm and despondency.
Zanu PF politburo members — Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri and her deputy Victor Matemadanda, whose ministry is responsible for war veterans affairs — have threatened that the army would be deployed to crush any uprising.
The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC said the war veterans must stop causing despondency and behave maturely.
This came as the opposition, labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and other civic organisations were planning to mount pressure on the government over the rising cost of living.
“As war heroes and senior citizens of this country, war veterans must always seek to promote peace and stability and they must conduct themselves in a very peaceful and engaging manner,” party spokesperson Daniel Molokele said.
“They must avoid engaging themselves in such a way that causes alarm and despondency in this country. This applies to everyone whether they are in government or not, whether they are in a position of public authority or not.
“We, as Zimbabweans, are a peace-loving country and we expect our senior citizens and war veterans to take a lead and ensure that there is peace and stability in this country.”
Molokele said one of the ethos of the liberation struggle was to promote freedom of expression and, as such, they were not intimidated in any way and would exercise their constitutional rights without any fear.
He said the Zanu PF regime has thrived on violence and the war veterans statements should be viewed as representing the bigger behaviour of the ruling party.
The MDC and the ZCTU, however, said they would not be cowed by threats from war veterans and Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema that the army would not fold its arms while the country slides into anarchy.
“Obviously, as a party, we are very disappointed by the officials who issue those threats. We reserve our right to follow the Constitution and that is a right that every Zimbabwean is entitled to,” Molokele said.
“As the MDC, we are not affected at all and we are going forward with our plans to freely express our concerns about the direction our country is going and the need to change the political discourse of this country.”
The MDC spokesperson added: “We really urge everyone who is in a position of authority to refrain from such statements because they are a threat to stability and peace in this country.”
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said it was “quite sad and an unfortunate confirmation” that the country has taken a wrong turn.
“There is no government that must celebrate the killing of its citizens. It is appalling,” Mutasa said.
“Workers grievances are legitimate and the government must focus on resolving them not on sharpening its arms against defenceless citizens.
“Workers and the majority of the citizens are suffering. Many are starving, failing to pay rentals and facing evictions. Many cannot access medical care and are dying in their homes.”
He also said workers should be allowed to peacefully air out their grievances, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Instead of opening the armoury, the government must open channels of genuine dialogue. Instead of killing citizens, it must kill poverty and hunger that is stalking the majority of citizens,” Mutasa said.
“We will go back to the workers and consult on this new brazen threat. We are, however, sure that workers will proceed with peaceful forms of protests. For history teaches us that no form of repression managed to stop people from raising their legitimate grievances and from attaining their freedom.”