By Brenna Matendere
The government has warned that the army will be roped in to deal with any violent protests, saying MDC leader Nelson Chamisa was trying to foment chaos.
Chamisa on Friday called for seven days of prayer, at the end of which he said he would be taking “decisive and crucial next steps”.
The MDC has been threatening to roll out mass protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, accusing it of rigging last year’s elections.
Defence and War Veterans deputy minister Victor Matemadanda (pictured) told a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators (ZILWACO) conference in Gweru yesterday that the army would crush any protests.
“The law says police must use minimum force when dealing with riotous people during demonstrations,” he said.
“I do not know the level of the said minimum force. But if they fail to handle the demonstrations, the constitution says they must invite the military.
“Those ones they do not use minimum force. If you see them arriving at a scene of demonstrations, know that time for minimum force has ended.
“If they deal with you in any manner, you can’t complain that they did not use minimum force.
“So I want to say people must just stay at home and avoid going into the streets for the protests.”
In January soldiers were accused of shooting to death at least 17 people and raping several women in Harare after Mnangagwa deployed soldiers to quell protests over a steep fuel price increase.
Mnangagwa later threatened to deploy the army again if protests turned violent.
Matemandada said Zimbabweans must not join the protests, saying they were being taken for a ride by Chamisa.
“Chamisa says he wants to unleash protests.
“Let him lead from the front and also bring his wife and children to also do so with him,” he said.
“He is a liar and is misleading the nation. People must not be fooled to an extent of taking heed of his call for protests.
“Chamisa should stop running around planning such things and start preparing for the 2023 elections.
“He lost the elections, he also lost his Constitutional Court appeal. That is a double kick. It means it’s over.”
Pupurai Togarepi, the Zanu PF secretary for youths and ZILWACO, said there was no need for talks between Chamisa and Mnangagwa.
“Some people are saying we have suffered.
“They say there is massive electricity load-shedding,” he said.
“They say for the solution to be found, President Mnangagwa should speak to Chamisa.
“There is no water at Kariba Dam and so if President Mnangagwa has a dialogue with Chamisa, will that fill the dam with water?” he quipped.
There are increasing calls for Mnangagwa and Chamisa to find each other and help Zimbabwe craft solutions to a deepening economic crisis.