BULAWAYO – The outspoken traditional chief Nhanhla Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna rallied Zimbabweans on Wednesday to take part in a series of anti-government protests called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Ndiweni, who has broken ranks with the largely pro-Zanu PF chiefs’ body, said the protests were “non-partisan” because the economic situation and political paralysis in the country was affecting everyone.
“I’m hopeful that on this occasion these protests will be a family day. Bring out your whole family, let’s all come out on the day of protest; a peaceful legal protest because it’s about engagement, it’s about communication with the current administration,” Ndiweni said in a video message posted on Twitter.
“It’s not a partisan protest; what we’re experiencing now means that even if you’re a supporter of the current ruling party, you too have experienced power cuts; you too have spent days upon days in fuel queues; you too are also suffering price hikes in supermarkets and places like that just like anybody else from any other party. So, it’s a whole nation trying to speak to the current administration to say you are going down the wrong way.”
The MDC informed the police two weeks ago of its plans to stage marches in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare – but the party is yet to get a response. Some ministers have accused the MDC of plotting to cause anarchy, although the party maintains that it wants a peaceful demonstration.
The first protest is scheduled for Harare on Friday, with the second city Bulawayo to follow on Monday, August 19.
Chief Ndiweni maintains that there can be no excuse for seeking to block a peaceful protest by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s security forces, who are accused of abducting and torturing two activists on Wednesday night after interrogating them about the protests’ organisation.
Good afternoon Mahlabezulu! Let’s talk about the upcoming planned demonstration. Part 2 of 3. pic.twitter.com/8vGRETEd3S
— Chief Khayisa (@ChiefKhayisa) August 14, 2019
“From the legal side, we all have that right to protest in our constitution. To protest is part of democracy. It’s impossible to have a democracy if protest is not allowed. It’s a package, it comes together as a package,” Chief Ndiweni said.
He maintained that there was “a responsibility upon the administration of the land to take a pro-active view about this.”
“The government of the day needs to facilitate peaceful protest so that they don’t become a big thing or big issue in the future, but they become part of our democracy,” Ndiweni explained.
Everyone taking part in the marches should actively document the march on video so that any agent provocateurs are identified, the chief said.
“On the day, let’s all take out our smart phones. Let’s all record every street in our country. Record those individuals who are engaging in illegalities. If it’s a uniformed officer, record that. If it’s a member of the public, record that. What we’re after here is to make sure that this protest proceeds in a legal fashion as enshrined in our constitution,” he said.
“On the side of the administration, I would advise caution. There’s no need for heavy handedness; there’s no need for feeling as if you’ve been attacked; there’s no need for reacting in a manner that is out of kilter with what we expect.”
Source: Zim Live