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Mnangagwa threatens crackdown on opposition to thwart protests

ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa has threatened a crackdown on dissent and opposition forces ahead of the annual Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in August which will tackle the regional body’s poll observer mission reports, including the local one which rejected his fraudulent and disputed retention in office in last year’s flawed elections.




ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa has threatened a crackdown on dissent and opposition forces ahead of the annual Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in August which will tackle the regional body’s poll observer mission reports, including the local one which rejected his fraudulent and disputed retention in office in last year’s flawed elections.

This comes as former opposition minister and senator Jameson Timba and 78 others are detained for holding a private meeting on 16 June  to discuss youth issues over a braai.

In many Sadc countries which uphold constitutional rights and democracy, if not all, this is hardly an offence.

Freedom of assembly, including other fundamental civil and political liberties such the right to assembly and expression, is constitutionally guaranteed, but reluctantly upheld in practice, sometimes trampled upon.

Zimbabwe, an authoritarian repressive state, has a long history of human rights violations, including violent suppression, intimidation, terror, maimings, enforced disappearances, and killings.

Timba is a veteran opposition activist who worked with the late opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his successor Nelson Chamisa.

The Sadc election observer mission rejected the outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections, saying they did not comply with the country’s constitutional and legal requirements.

It also said the polls failed to meet the Sadc principles and guidelines governing  democratic elections.

Special meetings were subsequently held in Zambia and Angola where the report was adopted and endorsed.

The situation led to a major diplomatic fallout between Mnangagwa and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who is the chair of the Sadc troika of the organ on politics, defence and security which oversees elections in the region.

The head of the election observer mission to Zimbabwe former Zambian Vice-President Nevers Mumba was subjected to vicious attacks by Zanu PF and Harare leaders, much to the chagrin of Sadc leaders.

However, Zambia resisted the intimidation and attacks, standing firm.

Mnangagwa then recently internationalised the fight by reporting Zambia to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the neighbouring country is an American client state, raising the issue of the United States African Command (Africom) which opened an office in Lusaka.

Mnangagwa claims that Zambia is destabilising the region by hosting Africom, a charge reacted by Zambian Foreign minister Mulambo Haimbe has rejected, saying Sadc and the African Union must intervene to resolve the dispute.

The issue has created serious discomfort as Zambia supported Zimbabwe’s liberation at critical times. It hosted many Zimbabwean struggle leaders, most prominently Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo and Zanu PF chair Herbert Chitepo assassinated there in 1975.

Mnangagwa himself grew up in Zambia and is Zambian to all intents and purposes.

But the issue of elections and Africom have widened the gulf between neighbours on either side of the Zambezi.

Zambia last year hosted Africom annual Senior Enlisted Leader Conference from 10-13 September.  

This has raised uproar in Zambia as the country’s citizens, opposition leaders and critics say Lusaka must not host Africom as it is divisive in the region.

However, the head of Africom denied on Thursday claims by Zimbabwean government officials and some Zambians that Washington is setting up a military base in the neighboring country and wants to move its operations there from Germany.

At an online press briefing, General Michael Langley, head of Africom, rejected Harare’s claims that the US is establishing a base in neighbouring Zambia.

“That’s absolutely false,” Langley said from an African Chiefs of Defence Conference in Botswana.

“We have no bases in Zambia. We have no plans to put one there.”
Defence leaders from dozens of African nations met in Gaborone, Botswana, as part of the 2024 African Chiefs of Defence Conference.

The US and Botswana co-hosted the conference in the Tswana capital from 24-26 June.

The event brought together military leaders from across Africa to exchange knowledge, encourage partnerships and foster collaboration toward addressing shared security and stability challenges.

“[In] every country, there are layered threats … especially across the Sahel,” said Langley.

“Every country has their different type challenges [and] drivers of instability. That’s … what’s going to be tabled for discussions.”

The chair of the Nato Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer attended the meeting.

Mnangagwa is pulling out all the stops to impress Sadc leaders when he holds the Sadc summit on 16-17 August in Harare and assumes the annual chairmanship.

In 26 March, cabinet considered and adopted an update report on preparations Sadc summit, presented by the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as chairperson of the
inter-ministerial task force on the preparations.

The summit was expected to be hosted at the New Parliament Building in the New City in Mt. Hampden, but there have also been somw mentions of Hyatt Regency Harare The Meikles and the Harare International Conference Centre which is undergoing renovations.

Government is also refurbishing roads in and around Harare and constructing some villas for the summit.

So Mnangagwa does not want dissenters and the opposition to rain on his parade in Harare during the summit in which he seeks to showcase what his government thinks is progress.

As a result, Mnangagwa says he will not brook any form of mischief, warning “hatidi mhesva mukono” (Shona for we don’t want mischief).

Speaking at the decision-making administrative organ of Zanu PF politburo meeting on Wednesday in Harare, Mnangagwa said any attempts to challenge his rule with be ruthlessly crushed.

“I am fully aware that certain unruly elements, in collaboration with our detractors, have activated their perennial tendencies of seeking to disturb our security, peace and prevailing tranquil environment,” he said.

“They must be warned that my Government will not brook any form of mischief, under whatever pretext. The law will take its course without fear or favour. Hatidi mhesva mukono.”
Rallying his troops, Mnangagwa also urged war veterans to close ranks and act as a formidable force against real or perceived enemies.

He says war veterans leaders must resolve their problems and reunite as they are a strategic force to the ruling party and country.

The Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association is deeply divided and has failed to hold its elective congress twice.

“Let us remain vigilant and on guard against various forms of infiltration by the enemy. We must never betray our revolution, or dishonour the ultimate sacrifice paid by the many sons and daughters of the soil. who fought for our freedom and independence,” he said.

“We are a constitution-based party with a rich liberation war history, sound ideology as well as clear rules and procedures. The adherence to the correct line of the party is the mark of true revolutionaries. Yielding to our individual or clique preferences is counter-revolutionary. There is no room for pseudo-revolutionaries in Zanu PF.”

He added:

“Let us stay the course and accelerate the modernisation and industrialisation for the growth of the economy of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe.

“Going forward, a conducive social and economic environment, where every Zimbabwean contributes to national development, should be nurtured.”

Mnangagwa sought to rally the party’s Soviet-style politburo to provide leadership at critical junctures like now.

“As the politburo, we have the weighty responsibility to fully, critically and pro-actively apply ourselves to matters that concern our revolutionary mass party and our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Our collective expertise, experience and backgrounds must be pooled together, continually for the good of our party, our people and our nation. The party is supreme and above our personal interests, ambitions and differences. The pre-occupation of our meetings must reflect these realities towards deepening our unity, respect for each other’s diverse views and overall intra-party democratic practices and traditions.

“This should always be informed by the party constitution, and the correct line of the party. We must be leaders who exhibit integrity and principle at all times.

“As the leadership, we must unite the party around our vision, principles, values and ideology. Zanu PF is a party that is organised and anchored on its grassroots structures.”

After the politburo meeting, Zanu PF held its a Central Committee gathering  yesterday, while the National Consultative Assembly is due to convene today. 

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