*By STAFF WRITER*
AS POVERTY and high-level corruption remains entrenched in the communities around the country that were also hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, both the government and opposition have claimed victory following the July 31 protests.
The demonstrations were thwarted on Friday by the State through the heavy deployment of soldiers and police in residential areas, closure of the central business districts across the country and arrest of activists.
Convened by opposition Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, the protests aimed at fighting corruption in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono were arrested last week remanded in custody after they were charged with inciting violence.
The government and the ruling Zanu PF have declared the protests illegal alleging they were meant to illegally dislodge a constitutionally-elected government.
Before the planned demo, Home Affairs minister, Kazembe Kazembe issued a warning that security personnel will thwart the demonstrations he said were in violation of lockdown regulations.
However, political analyst, Davis Laque, on Twitter has rubbished the narrative peddled by government pro-establishment activists who claimed that things were “normal” across the country as citizens refused to take part in planned anti-corruption demonstrations.
“It’s one thing to say a demo was “unsuccessful”.. yet it’s another to normalise a shutdown. The arrest of journalists, activists & the clampdown on dissidents all exposes this shallow propaganda. Zim was effectively shut down by the government. There’s no other explanation.
“But rather, more importantly, you can’t militarize communities & then say citizens “chose to stay indoors”. They only did this out of fear of being butchered. You can’t force the citizens to stay indoors away from their socio-economic activities & call this “business as usual”.
Laque added that the paranoia which resulted in the militarization of the streets, the CBD and the ghettos was evidence that it was not “business as usual” but a “night of long knives” targeting journalists & activists?
Opposition MDC Alliance vice chairman, Job Sikhala who is in hiding, has called for more mass protests “until we have achieved and obtained our results.”
In an audio Sikhala hailed the protesters and vowed to give them direction tomorrow and to make sure that demonstrations continue until the aim is achieved.
“They thought we were going to express ourselves according to their prescription.
“We had two clear plans when we called for this action on the 31st of July. The first one was that if citizens are able to express themselves on the streets so be it.
“Second one was an expectation that the state will unleash its massive military arsenal against the citizens then the citizens will successfully retreat into their homes.
“We are going to give a review of the situation this weekend. We are going to give you a way forward by Monday.
‘We can not retreat and it must remain protracted until we have achieved and obtained our results,” Sikhala said.
MDC A vice president Tendai Biti posting on social media prior to the demo claimed that there was now a de facto State of emergency in the country after the regime blocked all access to Harare’s CBD.
“Citizens are being turned away without regard to the law&their documents of authenticity. A de facto State of Emergency is now in play. Repression & fascism will never be a substitute for legitimacy, constitutionalism & good governance.