HARARE – A nervous Zanu PF is convening an emergency politburo meeting in Harare today, amidst growing resistance to the ruling party’s misrule of the past 36 years, as well as a crippling strike by angry government workers, including teachers, nurses and medical doctors.
The meeting also comes after Monday’s deadly riots in Harare, which saw stretched police deploying their members in full force around the country yesterday — with security helicopters menacingly buzzing around most high density suburbs in the capital, while armoured vehicles combed the streets in a desperate endeavour to stem the anarchy.
Well-placed sources within the former liberation movement told the Daily News yesterday that the party had been forced by the deteriorating climate in the country to bring forward its monthly politburo meeting from next week to today.
“How can we not meet now comrade given what’s happening? We were all shocked by last week’s riots by cross border traders in Beitbridge, which resulted in the destruction of a lot of property and more than 70 people being arrested. It was unprecedented,” a senior politburo member said.
At the same time, dogged National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe chairperson, Sten Zvorwadza, who has been fearlessly taking on the authorities over the past few months, warned that the threat by Zimbabweans to “shut down the country tomorrow (today) is no idle threat” — emphasising that this would be achieved without violence.
“Shut down Zimbabwe is going on, hatisi kumira (there is no going back). Mangwana tiri kuvhara Zimbabwe (Tomorrow we are shutting down the country) … every citizen … we are not going to work and our kids are not going to school.
“Let’s stay at home and be united. Let’s send a clear message to this government that we are the citizens and we have a voice that must be listened to. Tomorrow (today) we are all Zimbabweans, let’s move away from political stand points and support Zimbabwe.
“From Zambezi to Limpopo, Victoria Falls to Mutare, everywhere, kombis will not be moving, cars will not be moving. Get off the roads and stay home, we want them to know we are serious. Do not be intimidated, do not be afraid,” Zvorwadza said.
“We are saying no to the bond notes. They must put our money back in our accounts that they took. We are saying no to the import ban. Why are you banning the importation of food when industries are not functioning? Build the industries, and then ban.
“We are saying no to corruption by government officials. Our ministers are busy mismanaging the country and spending too much money and want to blame citizens for that. We also say no to police harassing us. Driving a car is not a crime. We are also saying no to silence on the $15 billion that is missing,” he added.
Zvorwadza also cautioned Zimbabweans to refrain from engaging in violence while protesting, saying: “Let’s not hurt each other. The problem is not any of us, it’s the government”.
Commenting on Zanu PF convening its politburo today, the former advisor to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said that the emergency gathering was similar to the one that was held eight years ago, just before the country plunged into total chaos.
“Zimbabwe is entering a phase for which citizens must be prepared for anything. History tells us that Zanu PF reacts viciously to anything that threatens its survival. Back in 2008, the Zanu PF politburo met on 4 April, just 5 days after the March 29 elections. By then they knew they had lost the elections and that power was slipping away.
“Their response is well recorded … It was vicious and diabolical. Now here’s the thing: the same politburo is meeting on Wednesday 6th July. As to the outcome and response, your guess is as good as mine. But it’s important for Zimbabweans to be prepared,” Magaisa said.
Another senior Zanu PF official who also spoke to the Daily News yesterday appeared to validate Magaisa’s fears, saying most government bigwigs crassly suspected that Tsvangirai’s MDC, aided by “hostile external forces”, was behind the worsening unrest.
But in a message circulating on social media, a pressure group going by the name Tajamuka (Shona for we are rebelling) said they had called for strikes to restore order in the country.
“The action that we have called for from the strikes, demonstrations … are intended to restore sanity in the country. We are giving … Mugabe up to December 2016 to have outlined a clear timeline for the country and indication to the people when he is retiring.
“We need new impetus to rebuild the economy, a new voters’ roll and the repeal of all draconian laws or any other laws that remain ultra vires the new Constitution. We restate that these actions are totally lawful, peaceful and non-violent and are meant to show Mugabe that it’s time to go now.
“2018 is too far and no election will be allowed to take place until the electoral irregularities are addressed. We urge Zimbabweans to heed our call to unity and action in defence of our country and in total defiance to Zanu PF’s governance,” reads part of Tajamuka’s statement.
But Zanu PF political commissar for Harare, Shadreck Mashayamombe, appealed to the people of his Harare South constituency to disregard the calls by Tajamuka to shutdown the capital today.
“As Zanu PF, we are encouraging all progressive citizens to continue doing their business on Wednesday, it’s just like any other day. We want to assure all residents who are doing business tomorrow (today) that they will be protected.
“These threats by these thugs do not hold water, we have put in place a lot of security to ensure that all vehicles, public transport and all public and private property is protected. As the vanguard of the party we can’t just sit and wait while property is being damaged by these unruly elements,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Daily News is also reliably informed that the myriad crises facing the country dominated discussions in a number of high level government meetings on Monday and Tuesday, as President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants tried to contain the situation.
Of these meetings and today’s politburo gathering, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said Zimbabweans should not expect “anything positive or tangible” to come out of them.
“The Zanu PF politburo is a grouping of tired, expired and clueless politicians who have got absolutely no sound ideas to effectively deal with Zimbabwe’s deepening political and socio-economic crises.
“We will have to wait until donkeys grow horns if we expect the Zanu PF regime to successfully extricate the nation from the hell-hole into which this insipidly corrupt regime plunged us,” he said.
Sticking to its calls for the immediate resignation of Mugabe, in power since 1980, the MDC also said “Zimbabwe needs a fresh start and a new beginning. We need a brand new administration that will usher in a new era of accountability and transparency”.
Gutu’s sentiments were echoed by the spokesperson of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Jacob Mafume, who said today’s politburo meeting would be nothing more than “another praise and worship session for Mugabe”.
“Some of them (Zanu PF politburo members) even cry after just looking at Mugabe’s picture and you can imagine what will happen when they see him face to face. They will weep uncontrollably and beyond crying in his presence nothing will be achieved in the meeting,” Mafume said contemptuously.-Dailynews