Source: US, French Ambassadors had a hand in recent riots: Chombo – Sunday News Jul 10, 2016
UNITED States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Harry Thomas and his French counterpart, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, helped engineer last week’s civil disturbances in Harare and Bulawayo, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo has said. Minister Chombo said the two were working through dodgy groups and leveraging on social media to foment civil disobedience and ultimately destabilise Zimbabwe. His National Security counterpart, Minister Kembo Mohadi told our Harare Bureau, “We will continue to gather more intelligence on the disturbances.”
A group going by the name “Tajamuka/Sesijikile”, fronted by former MDC-T youth leader, Promise Mkhwananzi, has been calling for civil disturbances through social media while National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe president, Stern Zvorwadza has also been on a crusade to foment an uprising against the Government.
Sources told our Harare Bureau that Ambassador Thomas has met civil organisations representatives almost weekly since his posting to Harare in December 2015. On 6 May, 2016, Mr Thomas met Pastor Evan Mawarire at his official residence, and later tweeted, “Wonder if #Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag movement will spread to the US and other nations.”
Mawarire trades under the banner “#ThisFlag” and has been openly propagating an anti-Government sentiment mainly on social media platforms WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. Ambassador Delahousse is also believed to have met Mawarire several times.
Minister Chombo said the Government has intelligence linking the French and American embassies in Harare to last week’s sporadic disturbances. Our Harare Bureau could not determine what action Government would take.
“We have gathered from our intelligence that there is the involvement of Western embassies in all these disturbances that have been taking place. The evidence that we have gathered so far shows that the French Embassy in Harare and other Western embassies are part of this plot as part of their regime change machinations.”
Dr Chombo challenged the embassies to deny it.
“We know for certain that these groups are receiving sponsorship from these embassies. My challenge to them is to come out in the public to deny this. I know they cannot do so because they know the truth. I also want to challenge the protesters who are behind this violence to go and protest at the French embassy and the United States embassy for the sanctions that the West imposed on Zimbabwe.
“Of course, they will never do that because they know that the Americans are their sponsors. Any element or individual who causes unnecessary chaos and mayhem will have nobody else to blame except themselves. The duty of police is to maintain law and order, and they will carry out this task with their full might.”
Last week, Harare and Bulawayo witnessed sporadic disturbances following calls by shadowy elements for workers not to report for duty and to sabotage certain businesses. Several characters were arrested, and are being charged with public violence. The incidents appeared co-ordinated as they began with protests at Beitbridge Border Post over the import restrictions recently introduced by the Government.
Authorities quickly pointed to a third force, with the Cross Border Traders’ Association distancing itself from the skirmishes that saw vehicles and a Zimra warehouse being burnt and buildings stoned. That became more apparent as photographs of characters with T-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag Tajamuka emerged. Images from disturbances in Harare days later also show “protesters” wearing similar T-shirts.