Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it has put in place security measures to protect their membership from further attacks by suspected security agents before and after its ‘highly anticipated’ march.
This follows the abduction and ‘severe’ torture of two activists Tuesday night by suspected security agents ahead of the party’s upcoming protest.
Tomorrow, MDC will partake in an anti-government march in Harare, prompted by the economic and political paralysis in the country before holding other protests in Bulawayo and Gweru.
The party says it would not be intimidated by the attacks and propaganda as it now has more reason to protest.
To ensure the demonstration dubbed the “People’s March” goes as planned, MDC is coordinating a security operation to safeguard its membership as well as political leaders.
MDC national spokesperson, Daniel Molokele confirmed the move saying several security measures were introduced by the party, which would also make sure it had adequate electronic security on its platforms.
“We have come up with the usual security measures, which we are advising the membership including the fact that they should not be walking alone and frequenting social places such as bars until after the march.
“They must avoid going out at night and avoid being seen anywhere. They must operate as teams and groups, if they see anything suspicious such as a car or person following them they should alert their chat groups so that people can also follow then up,” said the spokesperson
He noted Zimbabweans were resilient people and were willing to forge ahead as the situation in the country was now untenable.
Molokele said the party has also given emergency contact numbers and created a hotline through its social welfare department.
“The party has definitely identified places where people can be hidden but for security reasons, we cannot speak in detail,” said the spokesperson.
Concerned about the renewed reports of abductions, assault of civil society members and opposition party members, the US embassy released a statement that harassment or intimidation had no place in a democratic society.
The US Embassy said it would visit the abducted victims to document their experiences.
“We will be visiting victims of the latest violence against civil society and opposition activists to hear their stories and document their injuries. We call on the government to condemn these attacks and hold those responsible to account,” it said.
Later, the US embassy also tweeted: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. – Nelson Mandela.”
Kate Hoey, a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom also tweeted that it was important that her country’s Foreign Office speak out before Friday’s March and demand that President Mnangagwa control the security teams.
However, the opposition said it has witnessed such intimidation before but urged the public to remain resolute.
“People of Zimbabwe can end this long-suffering that they are experiencing by coming out in their large numbers on Friday. Let them not be intimidated by a regime that is clearly panicking. To the abductors and intimidators, you will not stop the change that delivers, we are going to see a new Zimbabwe sooner than later, whatever tricks you have will not stop the change,” quipped Molokele.
Abductions, the culture of abuse against the opposition and subsequent impunity is nothing new in Zimbabwe, ZAPU spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa pointed out.
He described this as a culture that has stayed in the country since 1980, where the state has managed to walk away from crimes against humanity.
“It is chiefly because most of the people purporting to be fighting the regime are after replacing characters and faces in the system without confronting the system that created and sustains these crimes of state abductions and murders. As such, nobody really confronts the problem for what it is. It will stay with us,” Maphosa said.
Maphosa added that although ZAPU was not invited to prepare and partake in the MDC demonstration, it would however not deny its own members from participating in the march.
“They, however, will participate in their individual capacities, not representative of ZAPU,” Maphosa said.
The MDC march has also received an endorsement from outspoken traditional Ntabazinduna chief Nhanhla Ndiweni who called on Zimbabweans to take part in the protests.
Speaking from a video posted on his Twitter platform, Chief Ndiweni said the protests were “not a partisan protest” but an expression that the current administration was failing to lead this country well.
“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,” said the outspoken chief.