Zimbabwe government pleads for army and police loyalty ahead of July 31 protest

Tensions are mounting in Zimbabwe ahead of mass demonstrations planned for July 31.
Tensions are mounting in Zimbabwe ahead of mass demonstrations planned for July 31.
Image: 123RF / Natanael Alfredo Nemanita Ginting

Security sector chiefs in Zimbabwe have warned soldiers, police, air force and prison officers against insubordination, as calls for mass demonstrations on July 31 mount.

Civic society and the opposition in Zimbabwe are gathering support to demonstrate against corruption and a failing economy. This is at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa has put in place a 6pm-to-6am Covid-19 curfew.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi said the country’s security arms were troubled by social media pleas from the public urging them not to obey orders.

“We have noted with concern recent social media postings urging members to disregard lawful orders, commands and instructions given by their commanders while performing duty,” he said.

He said the messages were a propaganda tool to “cause alarm, despondency and divide the security services”.

How do you expect us to tell our friends what to do when we are hungry like them?

Government workers, including the military, police and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) earn less than $50 (R850) a month – although security officers get more favourable Covid-19 allowances compared to nurses and teachers.

Police officers that spoke to TimesLIVE said morale was low because of the meagre salaries and they are going to be deployed to police their families and friends who are faced with the same situation.

“How do you expect us to tell our friends what to do when we are hungry like them? In the past, we have had police officers also taking advantage of the chaos - especially during the January 2019 riots, where colleagues engaged in looting,” said one officer.

Journalist-activist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of Transform Zimbabwe, were on Tuesday arrested on allegations of urging Zimbabweans to rise up.

Their arrests have drawn worldwide condemnation. The Elders, an international non-governmental organisation of public figures and elder statesmen, said in a statement: “We are closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe following the arrest of an opposition activist and local journalist. Inclusive dialogue and national renewal is only possible in a climate of transparency, trust, freedom of speech and rule of law.”

The Elders were in Zimbabwe in September last year to push for dialogue between Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Numerous diplomats and some within Zanu-PF feel Mnangagwa has failed to curb corruption and runaway inflation at a time when some within the party are losing faith in him.



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