ZANU PF youths have threatened a series of protests against pro-democracy activists starting tomorrow in an audacious attempt to counter and neutralise growing discontent against President Robert Mugabe’s administration
Party insiders yesterday said the youths have organised a meeting in Harare tomorrow to map out the plan, which includes marching in the central business district with placards to denounce leaders of the recent anti-government protests.
Zimbabwe has witnessed a new wave of protests, including a successful shutdown a fortnight ago co-ordinated by cleric Evan Mawarire’s #Thisflag movement and Tajamuka/Sesijikile, while opposition parties were piling
pressure on Mugabe through street protests.
Senior Zanu PF officials told NewsDay that they were mobilising for a counter offensive following a series of protests aimed at forcing Mugabe to step down over his government’s failed policies.
“They (pro-democracy protesters) can ignore our warning at their own peril,” a top Zanu PF youth league official said.
“Those that may choose to go ahead with their protests will have themselves to blame. Zanu PF is the only party that has a history of defending the country and, as youths, we don’t hesitate to defend our President.”
The latest developments were confirmed by Zanu PF deputy youth secretary Kudzanai Chipanga’s weekend rants, where he warned that the youth league was “waiting for the ‘pro-democracy’ protesters to press the red button before we take action”.
“We promise the nation that we will not stand akimbo when we are under threat. The red button hasn’t been pressed as yet and the day they press it, then they will learn the hard lesson,” he said
Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairman Edson Takataka confirmed tomorrow’s meeting, but was diplomatic on the motive of the gathering.
“Yes, we are meeting as normal on Wednesday (tomorrow) and deputy youth secretary Chipanga will address us at the headquarters. We cannot mobilise to deal with those two people
“It’s just Mawarire and that other group Tajamuka/Sesijikile. Obviously, we cannot be worried about them and our programme will go ahead as planned,” he said.
Zanu PF youth national commissar Innocent Hamandishe was also coy over the issue, saying there was no need for the public to be unsettled by the meeting.
“This is just a normal meeting and there is no need for panic. We don’t need to react to those protesters. They are just barking and, as a party, we cannot be moved by that or forced to react to them,” he said, adding the meeting would be a feedback gathering following the May million-man march.
But, Zanu PF sources said after the meeting, party youths will pour into the city centre to instil fear on the public supportive of Mawarire’s protests.
“Youths will march in Harare from the provincial party office to the headquarters. This is a way of intimidating people trying to start an uprising against the government. We are going to show them (protesters) that we have numbers and all what it takes to defeat them,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
There are reports that Zanu PF is panicking at the wave of protests, although the government has threatened to crush them.
Besides a series of Cabinet security cluster meetings and Press briefings, Mugabe has despatched top politburo members to the country’s 10 provinces for as yet unknown reasons.