BY OBEY MANAYITI
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has launched a diplomatic offensive in an effort to tell his side of the story in the face of global condemnation sparked by the deadly clampdown by the army in the aftermath of the January 14 protests against steep fuel price increases.
On Friday, the United States and the United Nations added their weight to calls by the international community for Mnangagwa to rein in the army, which is accused of killing 12 people and shooting of over 78 civilians.
According to his spokesperson George Charamba, the Zanu PF leader was forced to skip his so-called “Thank You” rally scheduled for Mt Darwin in order to apprise regional leaders about the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of an Africa Union Summit set for Ethiopia in a few days’ time.
Charamba said Mnangagwa had also sent special envoys to neighbouring countries to brief their governments about the crisis.
“His Excellency the President, Cde ED Mnangagwa, today, Saturday, spent the day at his Munhumutapa offices from where he made contact with a number of heads of state and government from the region and continent,” Charamba said in a statement.
“The prime objective was for him to brief his colleagues on the situation obtaining in the country following opposition-instigated violent demonstrations which affected the country two weeks ago.
“He also received reports from returning special envoys he had despatched to selected countries in the region and on the African continent for the same mission.”
US top diplomat for Africa Tibor Nagy said Washington was “deeply” concerned about the events in Zimbabwe and the UN’s local office said it was worried about “trails of destruction, looting, mass arrests and detentions” that followed the protests.
“The US is deeply concerned about continued reports of human rights violations in Zimbabwe,” Nagy tweeted.
“We call on the government to respect human rights, hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and immediately end all violence by government forces.”
Mnangagwa had earlier in the week accused Western countries of fuelling the violence.
Soldiers are accused of raping more than 12 women since the clampdown began and over 1 000 people were arrested for various offences allegedly committed during the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions-organised mass stayaway.
The MDC led by Nelson Chamisa says its officials have become targets of abductions by soldiers who make regular raids at people’s homes in the dead of the night.
Police and the army last week issued a statement claiming that impostors were behind the human rights violations.
However, government officials, including Mnangagwa and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, have defended the clampdown claiming the opposition posed a security risk.
While regional leaders have remained mum about the situation in Zimbabwe, South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane has demanded a meeting with Mnangagwa this week to discuss the clampdown against the opposition.
Maimane told The Standard in an exclusive interview that his party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change, a coalition of opposition parties in the Southern African Development Community, which he leads, were filling a void left by regional leaders due to their refusal to intervene in Zimbabwe.
The DA has threatened to take Mnangagwa to the International Criminal Court over the killings.