Security threats must be taken most seriously. This includes those posed by elements that are ordinarily regarded as of no significant value. The idea for those who are targeted and those mandated to tackle such threats is not to be taken by surprise.
A few weeks ago, a peripheral opposition leader, Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist-cum-activist, Hopewell Chin’ono, announced on Twitter that they were organising a protest which they had scheduled for yesterday. Initially they said the protest was against corruption in the country, but later declared that it was against the Government.
Many would know Ngarivhume as leader of a party going by the name Transform Zimbabwe who shunned contesting for the presidency in the 2018 elections but backed Mr Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.
Ngarivhume contested as a Parliamentary candidate for the alliance in Bikita East constituency in Masvingo. He polled 638 votes to emerge a distant third behind another alliance candidate Bornface Mudzingwa and the victor, Zanu-PF’s Cde Johnson Madhuku who garnered 10 261 votes.
Chin’ono has become more of an opposition activist than a journalist.
Both men are of no significance politically. All they do is tweet, tweet and tweet. They, however, appeared to gain the endorsement of Mr Chamisa and some Western embassies.
Authorities did the right thing by taking their threats very seriously and responding accordingly. The security forces deployed heavily yesterday to thwart the planned protest. In addition to that, it was evident that the masses, aware of the grave danger that comes with congregating at this time of Covid-19 and who are aware of the legal implications of doing so, shunned the protest call.
President Mnangagwa had on Wednesday, made it clear that the Government was going to firmly deal with the security threat.
“We will equally defend our independence and sovereignty to the letter and not betray the fallen heroes and heroines who paid the supreme sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today,” he said.
“I want to warn the organisers of this ill-fated demonstration that our security services will be vigilant and on high alert to appropriately respond to their shenanigans. I urge all patriotic and law-abiding citizens to shun these malcontents and reject their divisive and ruinous plan. It must never be in doubt that the objective of these rogue Zimbabweans acting in cahoots with foreign appendages, supporters, and financiers, is to stage an insurrection to overthrow our democratically elected Government.”
Zanu-PF and war veterans also denounced the protest call and urged the people to ignore it. The business sector had the same view.
We are glad that the security sector rose to the occasion yesterday to forestall a repeat of the opposition violence we saw in August 2018 and January last year. We have said in this space that law enforcement agents probably responded a little late to both protests or underestimated them hence they resulted in destruction of property, deaths and injuries to some people. Millions worth of property was looted and burnt in Bulawayo, Harare, Chitungwiza, Kadoma and other places in August 2018 and January last year. Some of the businesses that were looted and burnt have failed to resume operations.
We did not want that disorder and loss of life and property to occur once again.
Our people who are seeing more and more people contracting Covid-19 and losing their lives to the infection know the dangers of meeting in large numbers. They know that we are in the middle of a lockdown being enforced to halt the spread of the disease. Social distancing is the name of the game these days, along with regular washing of hands with soap with clean water and wearing of the face mask. They understand that if the protests had achieved the numbers they sought to do, that provided a conducive environment for the spread of Covid-19. Furthermore, the people knew that the demonstrations had not been cleared by police as should be the case with all demonstrations. As such, if any marches had been staged yesterday, they would have been illegal and marchers liable for arrest and prosecution.
We therefore commend the security sector for enhancing their alertness to thwart the planned protests. They are urged to remain alert as the opposition has developed an affinity for violent demonstrations. Our people, who refused to be used yesterday by Ngarivhume, Chin’ono, Chamisa and their ilk deserve to be commended also. They would have put themselves in harm’s way if they had taken to the streets. Also, it is only the organisers of such activities who benefit materially out of them and not the masses. Soon, we will see Ngarivhume and Chin’ono travelling to the West to deliver lectures on “democracy and human rights.”
Soon both will receive scholarships to study at Western universities. As this happens, the masses whose backing they need to legitimise their shenanigans would not get anything more than T-shirts and caps inscribed with protest messages.