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Whose rights are infringed upon by peaceful protest?

17 Aug 2019 at 08:32hrs | Views
It is interesting listening to official mouthpieces or reading from the State-controlled press. But there is always a better or subtle way of spinning.

According to the official line, peddled by the various outlets and their shameless "analysts" and police, the demonstration was going to get violent even before it began and must, therefore, be prohibited. Also, according to them, it was going to infringe on the rights of other "peace-loving" Zimbabweans.

Suffice to say the demonstrations planned by the opposition MDC were to protest against the mishandling of the economy by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government.

Yet, the only violence we witnessed and recorded in the streets of Harare yesterday was perpetrated by the police. Yes, the very police who are supposed to guarantee peace were the very ones committing the violence they accused the opposition of wanting to commit.

Let's be clear about the sequence of events. The MDC applied for permission to hold a peaceful march to protest what they called the mishandling of the economy by the Mnangagwa regime. This cabal, they said, had impoverished the majority of Zimbabweans.

Late on Thursday, the police issued a prohibition order banning the demonstration. The very idea of banning the demonstration at the last minute smacks of desperation on the part of the police and the regime to create an excuse to commit the violence that we witnessed yesterday.

The MDC went to the High Court, which dismissed the application on the grounds that it should have been taken to a lower court first. The opposition obeyed and called off the protest. They followed the law in both letter and spirit.

The police and State saw it as an excuse to make an example and assault people, including old women and children. Their Stalinistic ruthlessness was apparent to the whole world, projecting a desperate regime void of solutions to a crisis it created through greed, cronyism, corruption and sheer incompetence.

We witnessed a government that is very afraid of its own citizens and would brook no dissent; a government that is so paranoid it sees shadows everywhere and even hallucinates about a third force as fermenting anarchy.

Mr President, if you are a legitimately-elected leader as you claim, why are you so afraid of your own people, you know, the ones that supposedly elected you to lead them? If you are a legitimate leader, then you have nothing to fear. Engage with them, hear their concerns and address them, not shoot or beat them up for it.

Pictures beamed on international television stations and social media of heavily armed riot police brutalising innocent citizens, including elderly women, will remain the defining feature of the State's response to a demonstration, itself a right guaranteed by the Zimbabwean Constitution. This is the behaviour of a rogue and pariah State, whose government is so unsure of itself that it resorts to brute force.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi appeared on State television pledging that police will protect people going about their business. And yet, anyone trying to go about their business became an exhibit for police brutality. The public humiliation of women — some of them old enough to be the police officers own grandmothers — defines the nature of the repression that has become the hallmark of Mnangagwa's government.

The loudest message that has been sent to the world is that Zimbabwe is closed for business and that the country, which some now consider a failed State, is a dictatorship in everything, including in name. Zimbabweans are truly in the jaws of the crocodile. Indeed, Zimbabwe is open for business and focusing on its re-engagement with the outside world!

Source - newsday
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