By Everson Mushava
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says the violence that rocked the country in August last year and in January is regrettable.
Mnangagwa made the remarks in a state of the nation address on Friday ahead of the Heroes Day holiday tomorrow.
Six people were shot dead in Harare during protests against the delayed release of presidential election results on August 1 last year.
A commission led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe found out that soldiers deployed to quell the protests used excessive force.
In January, another 17 people were killed by soldiers after Mnangagwa allegedly deployed the army following widespread protests over a steep increase in the price of fuel.
Several women were also reportedly raped by the marauding soldiers during that period.
“The two incidents were regrettable,” Mnangagwa said in the televised address.
“But since then, we have continued to enjoy strong peace and that is why I am calling for dialogue.
“Never again should electoral disputes be allowed to degenerate into violence.”
His statement came in the wake of threats by government and Zanu PF officials that security forces would deal ruthlessly with any protests by the opposition.
The MDC has called for protests on Friday against the worsening economic situation in the country that has seen a massive erosion of people’s incomes.
However, Mnangagwa said his government had achieved a lot towards the resuscitation of the economy.
“With people’s support, good ground worthy celebrating has been covered,” he said.
Mnangagwa said last year’s elections created international goodwill after decades of international isolation, with international monetary institutions warming up to work with the country towards its quest to achieve middle income status by 2030.
“We are on the right path and our ambitious vision is within grasp. We continue to engage international financial institutions and the ongoing discussions with our creditors are going well,” he said.
“Painful but necessary reforms have been made in the year gone by and while the beginning may be painful, the medium term will bring about growth and jobs.”
Mnangagwa promised to make legislative reforms and do away with bad laws.