Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has washed his hands off the threats that were made by President Robert Mugabe against war veterans and the generality of the population who are challenging his disastrous 36-year rule.
In his response to a court application by prominent anti-government activist Promise Mkwananzi, calling on Mugabe to step down on the grounds that the 92-year-old is now a threat to Zimbabwe’s Constitution, Mnangagwa tried to stay clear of the thorny issues that were raised.
Among a litany of allegations raised by Mkwananzi, who has been arrested several times for participating in anti-Mugabe demonstrations, is that the nonagenarian is now threatening peace-loving Zimbabweans who dare criticise him.
However, responding to Mkwananzi’s averments, Mnangagwa said he was unable to comment on some of the allegations being raised, including those of threatening peace.
“I have no knowledge of what applicant (Mkwananzi) alleges . . . and deny it. Applicant is expressing his opinion and I am unable to comment. I have no knowledge of whether the words alleged were the precise words uttered by the first respondent (Mugabe) and put the applicant to the proof thereof,” Mnangagwa said.
Mkwananzi, who maintains that Mugabe is no longer fit to be the country’s president, cited the nonagenarian and Justice minister Mnangagwa, as first and second respondents respectively.
In the past few months, Zimbabweans have been turning the heat on Mugabe, accusing him of failing to respect the country’s Constitution as well as failing to come up with sound economic policies.
Faced with a wave of protests, that show no signs of ending, Mugabe has threatened his opponents with violence or jail.
Addressing his supporters at the burial of his former chief secretary Charles Utete in July this year, Mugabe threatened to crush war veterans and church leaders if they continued challenging his rule.
This followed similar attacks he made in June on war veterans, who are allegedly linked to Mnangagwa’s presidential bid.
“The dissidents tried it, they were war veterans and you know what happened. Lots of trouble, lots of fighting, lots of suffering of course to our people, and these dissents activities cannot be allowed.
“Do we see another rise of dissident activity? The leadership with our experience says no for a war veterans association, it’s not your function; it’s not your business to talk a lot on who shall succeed the president.
Dissident activities cannot be allowed; it ended in December 1987 when Joshua Nkomo and I put our hands together and our hearts together to say never again shall we allow this to happen,” Mugabe said then.
However, Mkwananzi castigated Mugabe over the statements, which he said should never come from a president.
“This unconstitutional and un-president like verbal onslaught reached alarming levels on the 19th of July 2016 at the burial of . . . . Utete where the 1st respondent (Mugabe) said that anyone who does not think like them is not a part of this country and should leave and go and stay in countries that tolerate such.
“I now live in a nation where I cannot criticise my president for fear of those who support him or his faction. If anyone criticises the 1st respondent, there is a march or rally that is arranged in solidarity with the first respondent to denounce the criticism and threaten such person,” said Mkwananzi.
In his court application, Mkwananzi also said that “this court does not expect people to appear before it when they are dripping with the blood of the actual infringement of their rights or those who are shivering incoherently with the fear of the impending threat which has actually engulfed them. This court will entertain even those who calmly perceive a looming infringement and issue a declaration or appropriate order to stave the threat,” a statement that Mnangagwa agreed to.
Responding to Mkwananzi’s statement that Mugabe is now threatening “the very same citizen that voted him into power” Mnangagwa said, “I admit contents of this paragraph but deny that there has been unchecked and institutionalised abuse of State power and resources for the first 20 years of our independence and put applicant to the strict proof thereof.”
According to Mkwananzi, Mugabe has among other things failed to promote peace and is “now the chief threat to these ideals”.
He said Mugabe and his party control the police and is using them as agents of torture, but further argued that the defence forces are supposed to be non-partisan.
“He actually uses them as a guarantee to his political party . . . he is abusing his office as commander-in-chief of the defence forces to subvert the Constitution.
“He has gone to the extent of treating citizens as enemies if they don’t agree with him,” he said, adding that Mugabe has failed to meet several of his promises, including the creation of at least 2,2 million jobs.
Mnangagwa, however, could not directly respond to these issues raised by Mkwananzi, but instead said the pro-democracy activist simply hates Mugabe.
“Whilst these allegations are directed at the first respondent, I deny that the averments are factually correct and I aver the applicant is being merely morbid in his criticism of the first respondent.
“I find that applicant is being extravagant with his allegations against the first respondent. The language employed by applicant suggests that he harbours a deep-seated hatred of the first respondent and it would appear that is what has motivated this application