Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary-general Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata has implored the government of Zimbabwe to denounce a brazen statement issued by the ruling party ZANU PF’s Acting spokesman Patrick Chinamasa, attacking opposition parties and foreign embassies.
Addressing a news conference at the Zanu PF headquarters on Monday, Chinamasa urged the revolutionary party supporters to use “any means at your disposal” to disrupt anti-government protests planned for July 31st.
The spokesman labelled the main opposition MDC Alliance party a terrorist organisation.
Organisers of the protests against corruption and misgovernance insist that they will be a peaceful demonstration, but the ruling party claimed the plan is to violently oust President Emmerson Mnangagwa on behalf of “neo-colonial interests.”
The protests were called by opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Ngarivhume, who has met other opposition leaders and activists to canvass support. However, Ngarivhume and campaigning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono were apprehended and held without bail last week after being accused of inciting violence.
“Zanu PF calls upon our supporters, cadres and sympathisers, wherever you are, to remain alert and ready to defend yourselves, defend our people, their property and most importantly defend peace in your communities against these malcontents, these hired hooligans and hoodlums who rejoice at burning properties and looting,” Chinamasa told journalists.
“They must know that when they are being attacked, law enforcement agents might not be near. In those circumstances, their first line of defence is themselves and their families. They have a legal and constitutional right to defend themselves. Don’t ask for permission from anybody, it’s your constitutional and legal right.
“Don’t be intimidated by hooligans and mercenaries. Don’t be like sitting ducks as you were in August 2018, don’t be sitting ducks as you were in January 2019, phoning us (to ask what you should do). No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves.”
Although the party is not involved in the organisation, MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa said they supported the 31 July protests. But Chinamasa claimed the MDC Alliance were using “trojan horses” in what he described as an “illegal regime change script… to seize power unconstitutionally through the back door.”
“As the ruling party, Zanu PF advises our people to shy away from being misled onto a deadly path by merchants of death who have no interest in the safety and security of our people, and their general welfare,” said Chinamasa.
“Zanu PF therefore appeals to our people to be misled by MDC Alliance malcontents. If the violent activities perpetrated by the MDC opposition were acts done in Europe or the United States, they would have been branded a long time ago a terrorist organisation which in fact they are, along with their trojan horses like the ZCTU, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and others which depend on foreign funding for their anti-people activities.”
Chinamasa claimed the MDC Alliance was trying to “gain through violence that which they failed to win through elections”, referring to a July 2018 vote which the MDC said was rigged after Adv. Chamisa narrowly lost to Pres. Mnangagwa.
The MDC Alliance and its supporting organisations, which Chinamasa described as “runner dogs in evil society” were “foreign-funded creatures undermining economic emancipation and empowerment of our people”, the Zanu PF spox charged.
“They want to delay the decolonisation of our country… The party and its cadreship will never allow this to happen. We will never allow any malcontents to take over this country, Never!”
At the same conference, Chinamasa also branded the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols a ‘thug’ and threatened him with expulsion as he accuses him of “coordinating violence” ahead of the planned protests.
The acting spokesman railed that Nichols was an “Uncle Tom” and one of a “coterie of gangsters and mercenaries who are disguised as diplomats” used by the US govt to “propagate values which they themselves don’t practise on their own people,”.
“I want to warn and remind them that it’s high time they get to know that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state,” Chinamasa said, adding that Nichols should be “totally ashamed of himself.”
“He continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
While the US embassy has led criticism of official corruption as well as the abductions and torture of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s opponents, it denies meddling with the Zimbabwean politics. It says it is merely holding Mnangagwa’s regime to the democratic values set out in Zimbabwe’s constitution.
But Chinamasa said “diplomats should not behave like thugs,” and that Brian Nichols was “a thug”.
He said: “We remind Nichols that he’s not a super diplomat to this country… He pretends to be our prefect. We have nothing to learn from the United States or those countries that imposed sanctions. They are no respecters of human rights.”
Chinamasa claimed Nichols’ predecessor, Christopher Dell, had attempted to push Zanu PF out of power and failed.
“Nichols should learn from his predecessor… He tried it and he realised the shoes were too big for him. Don’t dare Zimbabwe, we are waiting for you.”
However, Chinamasa’s statement has been widely condemned by churches and civil society. Rev. Dr Mtata, a cleric with the Evangelical Lutheran Church called on the government to distance itself from Chinamasa’s statement.
The Rev. Dr said, “We hope our government will, out of respect for the constitution and decency, distance itself from; Calls that citizens be violent to each other; Disrespectful and inhospitable language against our diplomatic guests; [and] Labeling opposition political parties “terrorist groups”.
In the while, ZANU PF youths appear to have heeded calls by Chinamasa to confront opposition protestors on the 31st of July. There is a video clip that has surfaced on Tuesday and is being circulated in which youths vowed to infiltrate the protest.
The video ends with one youth brandishing a large knife, another is wearing a t-shirt bearing President Mnangagwa’s image.