Gloves off: As tensions rise, Zimbabwe Govt lashes out at diplomats and businesses – and street preachers

(pic: Farai Mwakutuya)

Zimbabwe’s government lashed out at its critics on Wednesday, accusing foreign diplomats of acting like “card carrying members” of the opposition and charging that the currency was under attack.

The Joint Operations Command (JOC), a cluster of the country’s security functions, held a rare press conference on Wednesday afternoon, addressed by Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe.

With members of the security forces sitting behind him, Kazembe said armed forces remained loyal to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and that rumours of a coup were being fed by former ZANU PF officials.

Kazembe then reeled out a list of people that he claimed were out to destabilise Zimbabwe; from exiled members of ZANU PF’s G40 faction,and foreign diplomats. Bizarrely, Kazembe also mentioned even Talent Chiwenga and Simon Chiloh, two eccentric street preachers.

“There has concurrently evolved a palpable pattern where certain foreign missions accredited to Zimbabwe, are now in the habit of misleading their capitals through purported information gathered from these same dubious sources,” Kazembe said.

“Some foreign diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe have quite often not shied from engaging in anti-government activism, which renders it difficult to differentiate them from card carrying members of the opposition.”

Adversaries

The country’s already strained relations with the US soured further recently after the Donald Trump’s security advisor, Robert O’Brien, named Zimbabwe among “foreign adversaries” that he claimed are stoking the Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, sparked by the police murder of George Floyd.

In protest, Zimbabwe summoned the US ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, whose response was to criticise the government for human rights abuses. Government sees such moves as interference.

“They (diplomats) also have, in the process, brazenly jettisoned any semblance of diplomatic impartiality and finesse in blatant violation of the peremptory norms of international law. This has resulted in the quite surprising adversarial stance and policies that some of the big powers are then projecting and unashamedly pronouncing against Zimbabwe,” Kazembe said.

Zimbabwe remained committed to re-engagement, Kazembe said. “We are talking both to existing friends, and to those who have opted, without basis, to characterise us as an adversary state in the belief that we can build a new understanding for the mutual benefit of our people.”

Government appears to have been angered by a tough statement released Wednesday by a panel of UN experts, which called for charges to be dropped against three MDC activists, who say they were abducted and tortured in May.

“The three women were going to participate in a peaceful protest organised on 13 May by the Alliance Youth Assembly of the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change,” the UN experts said.

However, the government says no abduction took place. In what would appear a show of defiance, police on Wednesday charged the trio for making a false report. The three already face charges for holding a protest during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Currency attack

At a ZANU PF politburo meeting earlier in the day, Mnangagwa said the currency was under attack from businesses, as part of a plot against his administration.

“We are witnessing a relentless attack on our currency and the economy in general through exorbitant pricing models by the private sector,” Mnangagwa said.

“We are fully cognisant that this is a battle being fuelled by our political detractors, elite opportunists and malcontents who are bent on pushing a nefarious agenda they will never win.”

Mnangagwa said the abduction claims were all part of coordinated plan to fan unrest in Zimbabwe.

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