ZANU PF youths have threatened to work hand-in-glove with police in “arresting malcontents” planning to stage anti-government protests on July 31.
The protests are being organised by citizens, civil society groups and opposition parties irked by the current economic hardships which they blame on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s maladministration.
Addressing small-to-medium business operators in Mbare, Harare, on Thursday, Zanu PF acting deputy youth secretary Tendai Chirau said they would do everything possible to defend President Emmerson Mnangagwa, including working with the police to beat up and arrest protesters.
“They (protestors) want to be violent and want to think they will repeat what they did in August 2018 to burn property and vehicles. Why loot and burn property? We love peace but we have people who want violence to get into power,” Chirau said.
“On July 31, we are there to protect peace and our work. I assure you that the people of Zimbabwe will not stand for that stupidity. If someone does anything on July 31, be warned and don’t ask anyone if you see what will happen.”
He added: “The baton sticks you have as police are not for display. Police are there to maintain law and order and if there is anyone who wants to cause problems, they (the police) have a right to use force.”
He said ruling party youths would not stand and watch while protesters disrupt their business.
“We will not stand and watch. On July 31, go to work if you are in business. As the people of Zimbabwe, together with our police officers, we will not tolerate violence.
“We recognise President Mnangagwa as our President and he is working night and day to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, but you find others wanting to remove him from power.”
Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs for district co-ordinating committee six, Emmanuel Mahachi said they would work together with police to arrest the protesters.
“Let me assure you, as leader from this area, people who are planning the illegal demonstration set for July 31, we know them and they are thieves. I want to assure you that working with our police; we will arrest those who will get into the streets to cause violence.”
Mahachi added: “On the day, we will protect our jobs, Mupedzanhamo must open and no one will come to do anything there. We are a peaceful people and on that day, we should unite and stop the looting by these people. We will work with our security forces to stop them.”
“You (Chirau) sit in the politburo with President Mnangagwa, please go and tell him to sleep peacefully for we are protecting him and the country is in very safe hands. We are not afraid of anyone.”
But one of the protest organisers, Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume yesterday vowed to continue with the demonstrations despite government threats to clamp down on the leaders. Government has also threatened to tighten lockdown restrictions in the next few days as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID, but critics view the move as meant to curtail the planned protests.
Opposition parties have in the past accused government of giving out police uniforms to Zanu PF youths to crash demonstrations. This was confirmed in January last year by Jim Kunaka the former leader of a Zanu PF terror group, Chipangano, when he appeared before a commission of inquiry led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. Kunaka was giving evidence into the August 1 2018 fatal shooting of six unarmed civilians by security forces following a disputed election result.
Kunaka told the commission that Zanu PF youths used to have police uniforms stashed at the basement of the party’s headquarters and would be occasionally unleashed onto the streets to deal with protesters. But police have denied the reports.