The protests that have rocked Zimbabwe — with the MDC and civic society plotting more — have rattled President Robert Mugabe, who has accused the organisers of ganging up to violently topple him from power.
Addressing the crowd gathered at the national Heroes Day commemorations on Monday, 92-year-old Mugabe expressed worry that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was mobilising Zimbabweans against him.
He accused Tsvangirai of joining hands with organisations such as Tajamuka and the popular #ThisFlag anti-Mugabe movement led by cleric Evan Mawarire.
“I have heard Tsvangirai calling for a coalition with other organisations so that they can stage violent protests, saying that is the way they can be able to remove Zanu PF from power,” Mugabe said, adding that “we have no problem with opposition political parties campaigning to be visible and get support but we get worried when they mobilise for violence”.
Mugabe’s concerns come as Zimbabweans have been protesting against his failed 36-year leadership.
The protestors — who last week took to the streets demonstrating against government’s plans to introduce bond notes and Mugabe’s failure to fulfil his 2013 election campaign promise to create 2,2 million new jobs — are demanding that the nonagenarian immediately steps down.
Last weekend, Tsvangirai led an anti-Mugabe MDC demonstration in Masvingo, which will culminate in a nationwide campaign.
This also comes as Mugabe and Zanu PF are at crossroads following deadly rebellions by former allies in the liberation war veterans’ movement.
Some of the war veterans have openly supported the riots and protests in Zimbabwe while at the same time demanding that Mugabe steps down for a younger leader. But Mugabe argued that by resorting to violent protests, Tsvangirai was acknowledging that he had failed to win power through legitimate means.
“Calling for a coalition for violence, why not wait for elections? Isn’t that democracy that you purport to represent? Have you forgotten about it? Of course it’s true; they have failed to get Zanu PF out of power because it’s a party with roots.”
Mugabe also accused Mawarire of inciting people to “violently” protest against government’s decision to ban the importation of basic goods into the country.
“Statutory instrument 164 (of 2016) became an issue and it was hijacked by the likes of Mawarire. I don’t even know where he came from, I only heard of him but there is no country in this world that does not have protective pieces of legislation…
“If a demonstration has been approved by the police let it be peaceful not the one by Mawarire…We have people who have not changed. They stone our shops, our cars and even the police”. Daily news