Zimbabwean police warned Thursday that the mass demonstrations planned by the opposition beginning this Friday in Harare will turn violent, and urged citizens to remain peaceful and go about their normal business activities.
In a statement, police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said intelligence and concrete evidence on the ground had revealed that the so-called peaceful demonstrations will be violent.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) informs the nation that based on the notifications given by MDC Alliance to regulating authorities to hold demonstrations in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare and surrounding towns on August 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22, intelligence and concrete evidence on the ground has revealed that indeed these so called peaceful demonstrations will turn out to be violent,” Nyathi said.
He said police had recovered a substantial quantity of granite stones and catapults stashed in Harare ahead of the planned demonstrations while in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, over 120 MDC Alliance activists toyi-toyed at a shopping center during the night while chanting party slogans and mobilized residents in the area to participate in the demonstrations.
“The ZRP is disturbed that these purported demonstrations by MDC Alliance and partners have shown open violent acts which are physically manifesting on the ground. Police reiterates that security services will not fold hands and allow violence, destruction of property, intimidation, threats and clandestine night acts of violent agitation to take centre stage,” Nyathi said.
The opposition MDC Alliance has planned to roll out mass demonstrations in the country against economic hardships, starting in Harare this Friday, followed by Bulawayo on Monday next week, Gweru on Tuesday, Masvingo on Wednesday and Mutare on Thursday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since implored citizens to remain peaceful and shun violence in the wake of calls of the demonstrations.
Mnangagwa said instead of violent confrontation, he remained open to political dialogue with the opposition.
“I reiterate my calls to all opposition leaders that my door remains open and my arms remain outstretched. Riots and destructive violence must be rejected; peaceful constructive dialogue are the way forward,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.
There are fears that the demonstrations, to be held under the banner “Shut down Zimbabwe”, will turn violent as has been the case in the past.
Protests against a sharp rise in fuel prices in January turned violent, resulting in looting of shops, destruction of property and death of more than 12 civilians after the army opened fire on protesters in an effort to quell the violent demonstrations.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday assured the nation that there will be enough government-run buses to ferry people to and from their destinations tomorrow in spite of the planned protests.
Zimbabwe United Passengers Company chief executive Everisto Madangwa allayed citizens’ fears of possible shortage of transport, saying the company will avail adequate transportation for everyone in and outside the cities.
He told the Herald newspaper that ZUPCO will not park its coaches and will not in any way be affected by the demonstrations and will be in full operation.
“As ZUPCO, we are saying our commuters should not be worried about transport issues during the so called demonstrations. There will be enough buses for them,” Madangwa was quoted as saying. Enditem