ACTING MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe has distanced her party from the July 31 anti-corruption protests being mooted by other opposition parties which she has described as untimely given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Khupe said the protests being planned by opposition and pro-democracy organisations would be "stupid to risk people's lives just to make a political statement".
"The fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) is a collective responsibility and we cannot reverse the gains we have made so far as a nation in combating its spread for political expediency.
"What is there to demonstrate for? Against who? We are not going to be part to that because for us as a party, people's lives are more important than scoring cheap political goals. It will be stupid for any political party to do that," said Khupe through her spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni.
Khupe's disapproval of the planned demonstration comes after MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa endorsed the proposed July 31 protest which is being spearheaded by Transform Zimbabwe (T.Z) leader, Jacob Ngarivhume.
"We are seeing other people starting their own initiatives. We want to tell you that we will support any democratic initiative that can result in freedom for the people. We will join those initiatives. Even those who are in government and want to work towards freedom, we will support them even the civil servants," said the MDC Alliance leader during a recent e-rally.
But while presidential spokesperson George Charamba recently hinted that the demonstration would not be sanctioned by the police, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said the government could use the covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to descend heavily on the protesters.
"The call for demonstrations is warranted, defendable and legitimate because the situation has become desperate for Zimbabweans.
"However, the heavy hand of the State awaits those that will partake in the planned demonstration, and in the face of Covid-19, authorities will not hesitate to use a hammer to kill a fly.
"The State will likely go into its default mode of heavy-handedness to send a strong signal, like what happened with previous flash demonstrations, including the recent one in Warren Park," Masunungure told our sister newspaper, the Daily News.
"The opposition, therefore, has limited options because the freedom to demonstrate is only on paper. The democratic space is under lock and key.
"The reality is that nothing will change unless political gladiators in the country dialogue. ED should also realise that he has tried all he can to work on the economy on his own, and he has failed.
"His own supporters probably agree on this abysmal failure and also on the fact that all that needed to go wrong since he came to power in 2017 has gone awfully wrong.
"The only viable solution is thus a roundtable dialogue with the so-called enemies of the State (political rivals)."
Addressing a Zanu-PF policy meeting at the party headquarters in Harare last Monday, party secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said authorities were aware of the "anti-establishment agendas" of "our detractors".
"The party is aware of the planned mass protests which are being organised by MDC Alliance renegades, Tajamuka, Front for Economic Emancipation in Zimbabwe led by the ex-party youth commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu and other media protagonists.
"Our security department should constantly alert us on this clear present danger of this unholy alliance. We also take note and welcome the prosecutor-general's efforts for the extradition of Jonathan Moyo from Kenya as he is the figment of the external demonisation of the leadership and exhorting mass uprising in the country," Mpofu said.
He claimed there was a plot to soil the ruling Zanu-PF's name during the mooted demonstrations.
"Our security departments' jealously guarding the integrity and reputation of the party is critical. It is discomforting that an individual was arrested in Kuwadzana printing our Zanu-PF and CIO cards, the level of and sophistication of such an act only points to the fact that there are leakages and gross breaches of our internal security system which must be thoroughly investigated," said Mpofu.
The Zanu-PF secretary for administration, however, conceded that Zimbabwe was facing serious economic challenges and that "interventions on monetary and fiscal policy are not yielding desired effects."