Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
LAW enforcement agents will thwart any illegal protests called for today by proponents of illegal regime change under the banner Pachedu, an oppositional civil body.
The faceless individuals have chosen to ignore numerous developmental works to rebuild the country championed by President Mnangagwa, but police yesterday urged the public to continue with their day-to-day business, as their security is guaranteed.
An attempted illegal national shutdown in 2019 turned violent and some shops in Bulawayo’s western suburbs were looted, vandalised and burnt down.
Six people, including a police officer, also lost their lives during the violence.
Following the looting and destruction of shops, some people lost their sources of livelihoods and the public has been urged not to fall into the same trap.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police got to know about the planned illegal protests through messages circulating on social media.
“We have seen the information on social media and the Zimbabwe Republic Police has a mandate to maintain law and order in the country. So, any activities which are going to be done in clear violation of the law will be dealt with by the police. We expect all activities that are going to be conducted tomorrow to be peaceful. We don’t expect any threats and intimidation, and blockage of roads will not be allowed by the police,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said while the law dictates that those who want to engage in protests should notify the police, no organisation had done so by last night.
“There is no intended march or public gathering intended for tomorrow. We urge members of the public to continue with their daily activities and police will be there to ensure that everything takes place according to the laws of the country,” he said.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said law enforcement agents will decisively deal with anyone who breaks the law.
“Anyone who breaks the law will face the music, that is all I can say. There is no need (for a shutdown). The economy is picking up. Yes, there could be challenges here and there, but that is what it takes when you are rebuilding an economy. Generally, everything is pointing in the right direction; infrastructure is being developed, roads are being built, dams are being built.
Things are happening, there is food security, all the economic fundamentals are in place. It’s these people who are after a regime change agenda, otherwise the country is peaceful,” said Minister Kazembe.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said the city is yet to recover from the 2019 violent protests and implored residents to think of how a shutdown can affect them individually.
Bulawayo was one of the worst affected areas in 2019, resulting in ordinary residents losing jobs after shops were looted before being set on fire.
“We are still trying to rebuild some of the shops that were destroyed in 2019. My appeal to the residents is that they should not participate in things that do not build us. We should not destroy the little we have. Let’s not forget how the violent protests that we experienced in the past affected the city and residents,” she said.
“A lot of people suffered after their local shops were destroyed. They had to commute, while others had to walk long distances just to get to the nearest shops when their local ones were looted and destroyed. Even some owners have failed to recover due to the damage that was done to their properties.
“We are still trying to rebuild their shops. Some people even lost their jobs and their families were affected. So, it is important not to participate in projects that will not make us better.”
Industry players have already distanced themselves from the planned illegal shutdown saying it will be costly to the corporate sector.
Civil servants have also distanced themselves from the proposed illegal shutdown.
In a statement, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) president Mrs Cecelia Alexander said civil servants believe negotiations are the best way to solve any differences.
“ZCPSTU would like to distance itself from any calls for lockdowns or any such confrontational actions. It is our considered view that our fragile economy will be further damaged by such actions with little or no benefit accruing to the workers in the end. As ZCPSTU, we choose the path of dialogue involving all stakeholders for the good of the nation. On the part of civil servants, we call for the convening of urgent negotiations on cost-of-living adjustment if we are to avoid disruption in service delivery,” said Mrs Alexander.
She said civil servants are lobbying for the payment of US$540 salary for the lowest paid civil servant.
“The ZCPSTU notes with disturbed alarm the continued and drastic loss of value of our Zimbabwe dollar salaries. This situation has seen a regression towards the incapacitation of workers which we have all along been trying to address. There is now greater need for a lasting and holistic solution to this salaries’ conundrum,” she said.
“ZCPSTU is imploring Government to implement all agreed National Joint Negotiating Committee resolutions regarding school fees support for teachers, performance awards payments from 2012, institutional housing and the housing loan guarantee scheme. These non-monetary benefits need to be matched by visible action.” – @nqotshili.