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Zimbabwe's political climate remains tense

by Staff reporter
01 Jul 2020 at 17:54hrs | Views
WITH Zimbabwe's political situation remaining tense, the government is planning to introduce a new law which criminalises the spreading of falsehoods against key State institutions such as the military.

At the same time, authorities said yesterday that they had now identified the people who recently claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was on the verge of being toppled from power by the military.

All this comes as Zimbabwe is in the vice grip of a huge economic crisis which has stirred anxiety and restlessness among ordinary Zimbabweans.

Appearing in Parliament on Monday, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said the government would soon be bringing a new Bill to clamp down on purveyors of falsehoods which were harmful to the security of the country.

"I will not tell you what we are doing. I think on that one (coup rumours), I will reserve it for security reasons. We dismiss it (coup claim) with the contempt it deserves.

"We don't go by social media reports," she told the portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.

"We are dealing with it. We cannot share (what's happening) in case some might want to post some items. But we have to deal with it.

"We already have a Bill on how to deal with these people who peddle lies, particularly on the security situation in the country.

"Those are people bent on bringing the country into disrepute … The net is closing in on them because we now know them," Muchinguri-Kashiri added.

This comes as security chiefs recently dismissed talk of a pending military coup against Mnangagwa and his government — warning that they would descend heavily on purveyors of such information.

In addition, they also warned former senior Zanu-PF officials and leading opposition figures that authorities would catch up with them for continuing to make the "reckless" utterances.

All this also comes after the military staged a popular coup which ended the ruinous reign of the late former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017 — as the country's current economic crisis began to deteriorate precipitously, amid escalating Zanu-PF factional and succession wars.

However, two years after holding historic polls in which Mnangagwa beat Nelson Chamisa by a wafer-thin margin, Zimbabwe continues to experience economic pains — a situation that has been exacerbated by the deadly effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the regional drought that has left millions of people in the country facing starvation.

Despite showing early signs of efforts to turn around the economy, which had suffered from years of corruption and mismanagement under Mugabe, Mnangagwa and his lieutenants are now finding the going tough.

So deep are the country's economic problems that the hapless Zimbabwe dollar — which was prematurely and ill-advisedly re-introduced by under-fire Finance minister Mthuli Ncube last year — is collapsing spectacularly, which in turn, has triggered steep price increases of basic consumer goods.

On Monday, Muchinguri-Kashiri also lifted the lid on the immense challenges that the military is facing, including struggling to clothe the soldiers and providing them with a full complement of rations.

In addition, she bemoaned the debilitating effects of the lethal coronavirus, which she said had significantly reduced the Zimbabwe Defence Force's budgets.

Muchinguri-Kashiri also told the lawmakers that soldiers had turned down the idea of resuscitating garrison shops to cater for their basics at reasonable prices.

Instead, she said, they had demanded hampers.

"This was a welcome development (having garrison shops) within our forces, but the strategy was adjusted because they preferred hampers as opposed to garrison shops.

"The purpose of the two still serves the same objective.

"There are hampers which are reasonably priced … We continue to review this. We hope in the near future we will introduce garrison shops," Muchinguri-Kashiri told the committee.

Monday's committee meeting was also held at a time that the country was said to have been involved in quelling insurgencies in neighbouring Mozambique.

However, Muchinguri-Kashiri dismissed the claims as "dangerous social media lies".

"Those are social media dangerous rumours and lies. Dismiss them with the contempt they deserve.

"Regarding Mozambique, there was a (Sadc) Troika meeting that took place here in Zimbabwe, but there is no harm when a chairman of an organ is invited by a neighbour to say I have a problem in Mozambique, can you assist me?

"Equally, any country … can raise a flag to say I am in trouble. That is what happened.
"Because of the location of Mozambique, you cannot go as one country to settle a problem that will overflow to a number of countries," Muchinguri-Kashiri added.

"So, we take that regional posture … No country will dare to go into a situation, whether it was in DRC … or everywhere that we have gone to, we do have treaties and conventions.

"We respect those. We abide by certain rules and regulations, principles of Sadc that another country cannot go into another territory without a general understanding and agreement.

"Zimbabwe is very mindful that these issues are of a regional thrust," Muchinguri-Kashiri said further.

"We are privileged that Zimbabwe is still chairing the (Sadc) organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and you know that when a neighbour in the region is under attack, we take a regional approach.

"That's what we do with any country under attack. Decisions are made at a regional level," she added.

Mnangagwa is the current chairperson of the SADC Troika Organ on Defence, Politics and Security Cooperation.

The organ recently held a meeting in Harare to find ways of dealing with the Mozambican conflict, which is threatening to destabilise the whole Sadc region.

Source - Daily News