Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday accused “dark forces” both inside and outside the country of undermining his government and urged citizens to remain patriotic and united.

Mnangagwa said in a televised address to the nation that economic aggression, local currency manipulation and detractors were combining with some opposition elements and illegal sanctions to frustrate his government’s quest to improve the lives of its citizens and divide the people.

Zimbabwe is enduring tough economic times with inflation and prices of basic commodities shooting up while many people are failing to get living wages.

A planned anti-government demonstration called by some opposition and civic leaders for July 31 failed after the police and military barricaded city centers throughout the country, ostensibly to enforce COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

Some activists have since appeared in court after being arrested on allegations of inciting citizens to engage in public violence. “The dark forces both inside and outside the country have tempered with our growth and prosperity for too long.

They have thrived on dividing us. Let us as a people embrace the call for patriotism, hard work, transparency, accountability, love, unity and peace,” he said.

He called the people to be productive and transform and modernize society, while monetary and fiscal authorities continue trying to subdue the economic turbulence the country was enduring.

“Let us therefore pledge, individually and collectively, to defend our country, to be productive, to grow our economy and never to tear our motherland apart by dividing its people.

In unison we must proclaim that ‘Enough is enough. This is Zimbabwe, our motherland and we will defend it from any form of attack’,” he said.

He said the government was committed to enhancing cooperation with friends and partners in the international community.

“In this regard, we will continue to strive to achieve the delicate balance between the maintenance of peace and security on the one hand and protective civil liberties and individual rights on the other.

“In all circumstances, public officials and the security services will carry out their duties with appropriate astuteness and resolve.

The protection of the right to life is paramount especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and machinations by the destructive terrorist opposition groupings,” he charged.

He said the hardships Zimbabweans faced during the pandemic were not unique to the country as all other countries in the region and beyond faced similar problems.

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