Government has made provisions for adequate alternative transport for commuters and assured transporters and businesspeople that police have been deployed heavily countrywide to provide security as fifth columnists continue meddling in the country’s internal affairs by sponsoring violent protests.
It is illegal, the Government said, for schools to send circulars prohibiting children from going to school because the setting up of the school calendar is the sole prerogative of the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said it had come to Government’s attention that the regime change agenda had intensified as evidenced by the involvement of hostile foreign embassies in recent futile attempts to bring the country to a standstill.
“It is in this context that foreign elements are being warned against interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal issues. We therefore remind these elements that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state, whose decisions are made internally by Zimbabweans.
“It is common knowledge that the social media is awash with messages of intentions to destabilise the country through violent protests. We are fully aware of the activities of politically affiliated organisations and individuals, who are inciting the nation through misrepresenting facts and falsifying information,” he said.
Dr Chombo’s sentiments also come after the European Union Delegation in Zimbabwe yesterday issued a statement in support of the planned protests.
The minister said Government accepts that Zimbabweans had a legitimate right to present petitions and that these rights must be exercised peacefully as enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution.
Dr Chombo said legitimate concerns should be addressed through legitimate means, and not through violent protests which may infringe on other people’s rights.
Section 58(2) of the Constitution that deals with freedom of assembly and association, however, says no person may be compelled to belong to an association or to attend a meeting or gathering.
“It should be understood that some policies are meant to address particular challenges and may not be permanent, and that policy making is an ongoing process where decisions are made to suit the prevailing situations.
“The ZRP, whose mandate is to protect life and property under section 219 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, will be out in full force to deal with any disturbances that may arise and protect the same. I assure commuter operators, businesses and places of work that they will be given full protection. Arrangements have been made for the provision of additional transport for commuters,” Dr Chombo said.
He urged members of the public to desist from engaging in illegal protests that anti-government elements have tried to use as a strategy to undermine a legitimate government.
Dr Chombo also urged the media to report objectively and avoid fuelling violence.
“To all Zimbabweans, I am urging you to remain vigilant and not to be passive recipients of information which is meant to persuade, brainwash, mislead or incite you to resorting to unlawful actions,” he said.
He said the situation currently prevailing in the country was peaceful although there were individuals and groups that were calling for a repeat of events that unfolded last week.
“Let me warn the instigators behind the intended protests that they will face the full wrath of the law,” Dr Chombo said.
He said notable incidences of violence were in Beitbridge, Mabvuku and Epworth.
On behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, I would like to thank all peace loving Zimbabweans for refusing to take part in last week’s foreign sponsored protests. Those violent protests are counterproductive, as they may result in loss of lives and destruction of property,” Dr Chombo said.
The press conference was attended by State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi, Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Dr Christopher Mushohwe and Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni.
Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Professor Paul Mavhima warned schools against turning pupils away on account of the protests.
School heads found guilty of the charge will be dragged to disciplinary hearings.
Deputy Minister Mavhima said the school calendar was in full swing and children were in the middle of writing mid-year examinations, and any disturbances will be dealt with accordingly.
The warning comes amid reports that some school authorities yesterday sent notices to parents informing them that there would be industrial action against Government today.
Shadowy groups and opposition political parties have called for industrial action from today till Friday despite fruitful engagements between Government and its employees.
“If there is any headmaster who has sent notices, be it verbal or formal, that head is acting illegally. The industrial action you are referring to is illegal and a chargeable offence as there is no headmaster who has authority to stop children from coming to school,” said Prof Mavhima.
“It is a chargeable offence because they are infringing on the rights of the learners. If we get such information, a disciplinary committee will sit and decide what kind of punishment (to meet) upon verifying the facts.”
With regards to Trust and private schools sending pupils away, Prof Mavhima said today was not a public holiday, and any action taken against the school calendar will be deemed “politically motivated”.
Said Prof Mavhima: “We have serious reservations when Trust schools stop children from coming to school. They have to explain to us the motive or the only interpretation we can get is that the act is political.
“They depend on their own salary scales and the success or failure of their pupils is dependent on their work output.”
In one of the notices seen by The Herald, Hellenic Academy headmaster Ms Suzanne Joscelyne penned a notice informing parents of the “uncertainty” regarding today’s school activities.
She went on to reschedule timetables for upcoming examinations and informed parents that school will only be open for study purposes.
“Once again, we find ourselves in a position of much uncertainty surrounding tomorrow, Wednesday, 13 July and Thursday, 14 July. As the entire school is in the midst of examinations, we do not want to disadvantage those pupils who might not be able to come to school. All pupils must have the chance to write their examinations at the same time and without any stress. Therefore, tomorrow and Thursday’s examinations will be re-scheduled,” reads part of the notice.
“All examinations due to be written tomorrow (Wednesday, 13 July), will now be written on Friday, 15 July along with any examination that was already scheduled for that day. We have looked at the load this creates and are confident that this is manageable for all pupils in the school.”
Meanwhile, Econet Wireless spokesperson Mr Lovemore Nyatsine yesterday dismissed a message circulating on social media informing the company’s employees not to report for duty today and Thursday because of “the looming violence”.
Said Mr Nyatsine: “It is a hoax where some malicious, unscrupulous individuals are trying to harvest some cheap political capital