Speaking in his national address to mark the country’s 36th Heroes Day celebrations at the national shrine, Mugabe said his government would not tolerate any violent demonstrations aimed at removing his government from power.
He spoke as opposition parties and civil society groups have in recent weeks mobilized people through social media to march in the streets in protest against Mugabe’s alleged misrule, economic hardships and rising corruption.
Last week, police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of Zimbabweans that were protesting against the impending introduction of bond notes in the capital after some of the protesters started to engage in violent behavior.
Mugabe said the opposition parties must stick to democracy and fight to wrestle power through elections and not violence.
“We must remain cognizant of the fact that without unity, we can not make much progress. There will be divisions, quarreling, fighting and violence. That’s why things like protests don’t work because usually they end up being violent protests. We don’t want that,” Mugabe said.
He said people should demonstrate peacefully only when such demonstrations are allowed by the police.
In a wide-ranging speech, Mugabe acknowledged the harsh economic conditions prevailing in the country and said government was implementing a raft of reforms to attract foreign investment as well strengthen ties with international financial institutions to revive the ailing economy.
He said government would continue to import food to ensure no one starves after an El Nino-induced drought left up to 4.5 million or a quarter of the rural population in need of food aid.
On the import ban that Zimbabwe placed on South African products in June and has caused some disquiet between the two neighboring countries, Mugabe defended the ban and said it was meant to protect the local industry and prevent dumping of sub-standard and second hand products onto the Zimbabwean market.
Zimbabwe wants the ban to remain in force for up to three years to enable its ailing companies to retool and boost capacity utilization.
Meanwhile, Mugabe, who uses the commemorations to also lay wreaths on graves of some of the heroes and heroines interred at the national shrine, urged Zimbabweans to remain united in defense of the country’s sovereignty.
“We must remain steadfast in our efforts to promote the image of the country in the region and beyond,” he said.
Zimbabwe marks Heroes Day annually to honor its sons and daughters who fought for the liberation of the country from British colonial rule. Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain in 1980 after many years of liberation struggle. Enditem
Source: Xinhua/News Ghana