Fear grips panicking ruling Zanu
PF
There are growing fears that a panicking ruling
Zanu PF — infamous for its leaders’ crass boasts
that they have “degrees in violence” — has
started unleashing its terror machinery to remain
in power ahead of the country’s eagerly-
anticipated 2018 national elections.
This follows the worrying resurgence of violence
across the country in recent weeks, including a
savage crackdown on the opposition and pro-
democracy activists by authorities as civil unrest
continues to escalate in tandem with Zimbabwe’s
dying economy.
Suspicious riots rocked Harare on Tuesday, as
police fought running battles with supposed
protesting street vendors in the capital’s central
business district — amid stunning claims that the
troublemakers in fact belonged to factions within
the warring Zanu PF.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday
said it was” easy to connect the dots” and see
that Zanu PF had launched its 2018 assault on
the opposition and rights groups, all of whom
have been at the forefront of agitating for the
ruling party’s ouster from power.
“Zanu PF is going for broke and wants open
confrontation, the kind of thing that we have
always prayed would not happen. It is
symptomatic of a state under siege, but we only
hope we are not going to lose lives. We fear for
the worst,” said prominent academic Ibbo
Mandaza.
Prominent politics professor at the University of
Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure, also said he
feared that Zanu PF was already “rehearsing its
2018 strategy” using violence.
“We are witnessing the reincarnation of the Zanu
PF modus operandi of unleashing violence against
its critics ahead of elections.
“It could be argued that the ruling party wants
the violence to be blamed on the opposition to
justify an extension of the prohibition order
against demonstrations that has been limited to
Harare in terms of its geographical scope,” he
said.
“They want to portray a picture that Harare and
its confines remain a hot spot. Zanu PF realises
that a state of emergency will be extremely
damaging to its reputation in the eyes of the
international community as it would be an
admission of failure by the state to establish
political stability.
“While it remains a possibility that they will do
so, in my view it is very improbable. I maintain
that this is Zanu PF’s default style to resort to
violence. The party is basically in a violent early
election mode,” Masunungure added.
Tuesday’s violence in Harare came as police came
under pressure to arrest Zanu PF mobs who left
for dead officials belonging to the opposition
Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), during bloody
skirmishes in Guruve on Sunday.
Then, seemingly deranged Zanu PF youths ran
amok, embarking on an orgy of political violence
targeted at four ZPF bigwigs — including a
retired senior military official and former
diplomat — and forcing a local school to close on
Monday.
The barbaric attacks by the axe-wielding mobs
also saw property worth tens of thousands of
dollars, including two vehicles, being destroyed in
the historically volatile Mashonaland Central
province — as fears grew that this was a
harbinger of worse violence to come in the next
few months.
WomenforWomen, an organisation advocating for
women’s rights, also said the violence of the past
few days was clearly not consistent with the pro-
democracy forces who had been emphasising non-
violent actions to protest the current political
and economic crisis.
“Tuesday’s violent clashes by their very nature
are alien to us and have the character of
everything we are against. The logical conclusion
is that the malicious violent attacks were
committed by other people.
“And if we follow the logic of history and trends,
Zanu PF naturally becomes a major suspect. We
are aware that the regime is desperately trying
to craft a narrative of a violent citizens’
movement so as to justify a clampdown.
“The most unfortunate detail is that we have a
partisan police force that cannot carry out
investigations and make people account for their
actions, and so impunity prevails,” the
organisation’s co-ordinator Maureen
Kademaunga said.
On its part, the MDC said Tuesday’s
demonstrations were “clearly stage-managed by
Zanu PF” to create conditions for the further
harassment of the opposition and rights groups.
“The Zanu PF regime is a very seasoned
dictatorship, an experienced tyranny. The
strategy is to cause alarm and despondency as a
precursor and justification for the declaration of
a state of emergency.
“Mugabe is going for broke. Never ever think
that he will surrender power on a silver platter.
There is going to be blood on the floor. As it is,
the Zanu PF regime has almost completed the
rigging process of Election 2018,” said its
spokesman Obert Gutu.
“The regime will vigorously oppose the call for
electoral reforms because the securocrats as well
as the CIO have already advised Mugabe and his
inner circle that Zanu PF will perish if a free and
fair election is to be held in 2018.
“As such, opposition leaders and civil rights
activists will be hunted down like rats. There will
be arrests, abductions and even detentions.
Don’t under-estimate the Zanu PF regime’s
capacity for thuggery and brutality. Remember,
Mugabe himself once boasted that he has got
degrees in violence. He wasn’t joking,” Gutu
added.
Former civic leader, McDonald Lewanika, said
Tuesday’s violence was indicative of a party that
was bent on achieving “multiple victories by using
smoke and mirrors” tactics.
“Zanu PF’s use of agent provocateurs may be
calculated to achieve two things. First, it is
likely to be calculated to create a premise for a
further clampdown on civic groups and opposition
parties on the premise that they are disturbing
the peace and destroying property.
“Secondly, it could also be calculated to remove
sympathy for the protestors from business and
ordinary people who were deliberately targeted in
yesterday’s violence.
“For if they believe that these were the actions
of Navuz vendors, #Tajamuka or opposition
parties, the indiscriminate destruction of
property and violence which ordinary citizens got
caught up in loses them support,” Lewanika told
the Daily News.
“Fear can make such a regime unreasonable,
placing the possibility of formal and informal
curfews and state of emergencies firmly on the
table,” added the former Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition executive director.
Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabweans have known
since the country gained its independence from
Britain in April 1980, is battling to save his long
political career as citizen unrest escalates over
the ever-deteriorating quality of life locally,
which they blame squarely on his misrule.
But the increasingly frail nonagenarian has not
taken lightly to the challenge to his power,
unleashing the country’s security apparatus on
the restive populace with devastating
consequences — amid fears that the government
may effect a State of Emergency to foil further
protests.
Two weeks ago, police and soldiers ran amok in
many of Harare’s high density suburbs where
they indiscriminately beat up nightclub revellers,
before they also ordered the early closure of
shops in Chitungwiza.
Authorities also savaged and arrested scores of
pro-democracy activists and opposition members
coalescing under the banner of the National
Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), who were holding
nationwide protests to press for much-needed
electoral reforms ahead of the eagerly-
anticipated 2018 national elections.
This was despite the fact that demonstrations
outside central Harare had not been included in
the current police ban on mass action of any
kind