THE GOVERNMENT still faces a major uprising by fed-up Zimbabweans despite foiling last month’s mass protests, expelled former Zanu-PF youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu says.
Speaking to the DailyNews yesterday, Tsenengamu – who now leads the anti-corruption pressure group, the Front for Economic Emancipation (FEE) – also claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was increasingly under pressure in Zanu-PF, where some bigwigs were allegedly no longer backing him.
This comes as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying to end Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic crises, which have once again attracted international attention, following the government’s alleged breach of human rights during last month’s foiled protests.
Despite all the current local and regional efforts to lower political temperatures in the country, Tsenengamu warned yesterday that the government was still at risk of an uprising.
“All I can say is that everything that has a beginning has an end. Mnangagwa must tread carefully. He must learn from history. The path he has chosen is not right, and I don’t think that it is sustainable.
“Though at some point Ian Smith and (the late former president Robert) Mugabe thought that they were going to stay in power forever, their reigns came to an end.
“Those who lied to Mugabe and gave him a false sense of security abandoned him and he was all by himself, and he died a bitter man,” the forthright Tsenengamu told the Daily News.
“He (Mnangagwa) seems to have forgotten this so quickly. This brutal system that he is using to purge others will be used against him in the same way it almost finished him off in 2017 (at the height of Zanu-PF’s factional and succession wars).
“With the bigger part of the world making pronouncements on the situation in our country, while on the other side there is an agitated citizenry, Zanu-PF knows that they are sitting on a ticking time bomb.
“They are just putting on a brave face … but they are on the back foot,” Tsenengamu said further.
“What makes the leadership panic is also because of the way they ascended to power. They are worried of a repeat of the same. They have no peace of mind,” he added.
Since his expulsion from Zanu-PF over allegations of corruption that he made against some of the ruling party’s bigwigs, Tsenengamu has become an arch critic of Mnangagwa and his government.
He told the DailyNews yesterday that besides the mounting pressure from opposition parties and civil society, Zanu-PF was dogged by growing in-fighting.
“2017 (Zanu-PF purges which led to the November 2017 military coup) is already on repeat, but at a smaller scale for now. There is a loss of trust among the leaders.
“Those being attacked are being realistic in the face of the challenges that the country is facing. The majority know the truth but are afraid of victimisation. So, they just pretend all is well.
“As far as I know, it is just a matter of time before this ticking bomb explodes, because they can’t sustain this,” Tsenengamu told the Daily News.
“The best way forward for citizens is to press on and not look back. They must continue to raise their voices as a united force,” he said.
All this comes as Mnangagwa, who ascended to power via a popular military coup in November 2017, has come under growing pressure from long suffering Zimbabweans who accuse him and his government of failing to mend the country’s broken economy.
Last month, opposition and pro-democracy groups planned to stage massive protests against the country’s worsening political and economic crises, but were stopped by authorities who deployed security forces throughout the country.
Rights groups have claimed that dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.
On its part, the government has refuted the allegations – claiming instead that the opposition is allegedly working with foreigners to destabilise the country.
Meanwhile, MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti has warned that Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises have now reached a critical point that could soon lead to a bloodbath.
This comes after Mnangagwa vowed recently that the government would flush out “terrorist” opposition groups that are allegedly working with international players to “destabilise” the country.
Speaking during an online discussion last week organised by South Africa’s Jacana Media, Biti said civil strife in the country was imminent – adding that only international community intervention could stop a bloodbath.
“We are entering a very dangerous phase, a phase in which those that are controlling the state know one language – which is repression, violence and authoritarianism. They don’t know dialogue. They don’t know how to interface with the people.
“As Zimbabweans, we have to defend ourselves in the parameters and limits defined by the Constitution, Section 59 of the Constitution.
“But our actions alone as Zimbabweans are not enough. We need the agency, as well as the protection of international law,” Biti said.
“The action and activities of (South African) President Cyril Ramaphosa, Sadc, African Union and the United Nations Security Council are very key in international law.
“They have a duty to defend people where there is a violation of human rights. The country’s president (Mnangagwa) a few days ago, on the 4th of August, made a presentation to the nation.
“In that presentation, he used language that is dangerous. He used language like ‘we will flush you out, you are dark forces’.
“The last time I heard that language was in February 1994 in Rwanda and a few months later in April 1994 about 800 000 people lay dead,” Biti added.
“I see ominous signs and closure of space. I see one thing, a definitive attack on the citizens of Zimbabwe that will be very bloody and very nasty.
“We as Zimbabweans, therefore, there is a limit to which we can defend ourselves. We need the agency of the international community in particular,” Biti said further.
Biti’s warning came a few days after Ramaphosa despatched his special envoys to Zimbabwe – former vice president Baleka Mbete and ex-ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi – to meet with Mnangagwa after an international outcry over alleged gross human rights violations in the country.
The envoys are set to return to Harare soon, to consult with other stakeholders – including the opposition and civil society – with South Africa saying Zimbabwe’s crises are beginning to hurt the regional power.
— Daily News