PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday defended State security agents’ recent brutal clampdown on protesters, saying they were simply enforcing COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Mnangagwa also dismissed allegations of presiding over gross human rights violations.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Addressing members of the Political Actors’ Dialogue (Polad) in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa also insisted that “contrary to social media claims”, there was no crisis in the country.
“My compatriots, it is in line with enforcing these measures that some sections of society have cried foul,” Mnangagwa said.
He was referring to the July 31 anti-corruption protests which were foiled by security forces, attracting the wrath of the international community.
“In the wake of the arrest of some elements whose actions sought to not only incite the public to gather against the set rules, but also bordering on subversive allegations of a crisis has been made mainly in social media circles.”
Mnangagwa has come under global spotlight after several countries, churches and rights groups condemned his clampdown on dissenting voices, arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders and civic society activists as well as abduction and torture of civilians.
The outcry over rights violations in Zimbabwe last month prompted South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy envoys on a fact-finding mission to Harare.
Mnangagwa has, however, repeatedly denied that there is a crisis in the country and even accused his critics of working in cahoots with the opposition in a plot to overthrow his government.
The Zanu PF leader yesterday said investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leaders Jacob Ngarivhume and Job Sikhala were arrested for violating COVID-19 regulations as well as inciting despondency in the country.
“I wish to unequivocally state that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe as elections were held in July 2018 and a winner was declared in terms of the country’s Constitution. All contestants were invited to join this dialogue in the national interest. The door is still open for those outside,” Mnangagwa said in a jibe directed at his main challenger MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who has steadfastly refused to recognise his victory.
Chamisa has also declined to be part of Polad, insisting on “genuine dialogue” superintended by credible observers and at a neutral venue.
On the contentious land compensation issue that has triggered anxiety in the ruling Zanu PF party, Mnangagwa said: “… the land reform programme is irreversible. To this end, there is no vacillation. The current processes with regards to land issues entail the implementation of provisions of our national Constitution.”