Monday, 29 August 2016


Opposition political parties have raised concern that President Robert Mugabe could soon declare a state of emergency in a bid to thwart increasing violent protests, NewsDay has established.

A shadowy State media columnist Nathaniel Manheru — widely believed to be presidential spokesperson George Charamba — at the weekend insinuated that Mugabe’s government could throw out the Constitution and declare a state of emergency to deal with the persistent protests.
“The line has been crossed. From now onwards, it shall be another country. This caring world can go hang. We have a country to protect. And govern. After all, we have hit the bottom. We can’t fall,” Manheru wrote.

Manheru, in his column, urged Mugabe to ruthlessly and decisively crush protests in the same manner Syrian President Bashar Hafez al Assad moved to suppress dissent in his country.
“Assad moved in decisively to crush it . . . Assad may have lost peace, lost development, but saved a country . . . and don’t waste time to decide is to govern, unless you want to capitulate anarchy disguised as democracy,” he wrote.

But MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said his party took the threats seriously and feared that they pointed to plans by government to trash the Constitution in an endeavour to suppress human rights.
“Of course, it is a public secret that Charamba writes the Manheru column in The Herald newspaper. Whatever Manheru writes, therefore, essentially discloses what Mugabe himself will be planning and thinking,” Gutu said.

He added: “The MDC-T is acutely aware of the fact that the Zanu PF regime is keen on declaring a state of emergency in Zimbabwe so that they can unleash a violent and brutal clampdown on the activities of opposition political parties. In this respect, therefore, we take Manheru’s threats very seriously.”

Political parties accused Mugabe, who left for Kenya while the country was burning, of fretting over a strong opposition which has ganged up against him over the past few weeks.

“He is a dictator. He is intolerant and when cornered, he becomes mean and dangerous. This is the main reason why the MDC-T is calling upon Sadc to urgently intervene in the Zimbabwean political crisis,” Gutu said.

Peoples’ Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume dismissed Charamba’s narrative, saying as a member of a Zanu PF faction, they had failed to deal with party officials — Sarah Mahoka and Manicaland minister of State, Mandiitawepi Chimene who have repeatedly embarrassed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He, however, was quick to say due to the pressure Mugabe was going through, from Zanu PF and the opposition, he could declare a state of emergency as a way to thwart dissenting voices.
“They are desperate and cornered, they can do anything, but it will not work. The people are united and determined and they will win,” he said

Zimbabwe People First spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said although Charamba’s writings could not be representative of the entire Zanu PF party, for long he has been advocating for anarchy in Zimbabwe.

“There is no justification really for Mugabe and anarchists like Manheru to declare a state of emergency, but you must understand that for long, this man has been pushing for that. He wants to have the army to get involved in civilian affairs and as ZimPF, we believe he is setting a tone for that. Each time there is a misunderstanding with the State and Zanu PF, Manheru believes the army should be the last hope, something democracy abhors,” Mawarire said.

Home Affairs minister, who is also Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo refused to comment, saying he had not read Manheru’s piece.

“Let me first read what Manheru wrote and I will come back to you,” Chombo said.
Contacted for comment over the possibility of government declaring a state of emergency, Information minister Christopher Mushohwe said: “The Herald is not government, so don’t listen to them. When government deems it fit to declare a state of emergency, we will communicate accordingly. Currently, we don’t intend to because it is not necessary. But, we are worried about the violence being orchestrated by the opposition.”

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said he would not be surprised if Mugabe called for a state of emergency.

“I wouldn’t be surprised because it’s a state under siege. But, if they do call for the state of emergency, it will only exacerbate the situation and it will also be an admission of failure by the State,” he said.

Another analyst, Alexander Rusero said: “Manheru is more of an agenda setter and we have seen some of the things he writes about come to materialise. He reads Mugabe’s mind since he is his spokesperson, but in this case, it’s more than agenda setting. It exposes the panic in the corridors of power. They have been opposed for their lack of ability to deal with such protests, it’s more of shock than action. I, however, don’t see a state of emergency being called in Zimbabwe because it would expose the efficacy of the security and would bring to question the sovereign credentials of the country.”


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