Last Friday, the government unleashed the police and soldiers to stop the planned protest by locking down urban centres and suburbs – a move that stopped potential picketers from assembling. But the heavy show of force by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government appeared not to have cowed organisers of the protesters.
The organisers of the abortive July 31 protest say they will roll out five days of demonstrations next week against alleged wanton looting and corruption. A defiant MDC vice-chairperson Job Sikhala yesterday said they had not been discouraged by the Friday setback.
“From tomorrow, Monday (yesterday), the 3rd of August, we urge all of you to have an opportunity to stock food. This is called upon because we need to speak more loudly for the entire week starting Monday the loth of August to the 15th,” Sikhala said in a statement.
“That will be the week of action. This time it won’t be a one-day event. It will be a week of expression against corruption and looting. This time we are also speaking against gross human rights abuses against us.”
He added: “Why are you bringing violence against the people? People are peaceful in their homes and you raid them at night and beat them. Dear Zimbabweans, we need to stop it. This has gone against all tenets of civilisation and human dignity. Why are people being beaten up? Why are people being tortured, why are people being arrested for no crime? Kwayi unnecessary movements? What is that in a modern state, in the 21st century? No, no, no. We can’t accept this, one week action from the loth of August to the 15th.
“… This thing will continue indefinitely until soldiers are withdrawn from citizens’ residences. We are reviewing the way forward and we will inform the world very soon. We cannot and will not retreat; it must remain protracted until we have achieved the results we want.”
Another organiser of the protests, former Zanu PF youth league political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu, said the retreat was not an option. “We are obviously not going to stop protesting till we get the results because getting their attention alone without them addressing our concerns is not enough. They have to stop the looting and address the concerns of the people,” said Tsenengamu.