Cape Town – One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has taken a swipe at Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa following the death of one opposition activist after violence broke out during a rally hosted by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) over the weekend.
At least 17 other people were hospitalised.
Thousands of activists had gathered in the central city of Kwekwe to listen to a speech by party leader Nelson Chamisa, the main opponent of Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF party, in power since independence.
ALSO READ | One dead, 17 hospitalised in new violence at Zimbabwe opposition rally
AFP reported that more than a dozen men, suspected of being Zanu-PF militants, got out of a pick-up truck and initiated violence on the sidelines of the rally.
The violence that happened today at CCC rally in Kwekwe was caused by ZANUPF thugs. In this video, citizens can be seen restraining one of the attackers.They want to cause confusion so that police will have grounds to try and deny CCC clearance in the future. It’s all planned pic.twitter.com/gFWi8bM8kg
— Hurungwefarmer (@hurungwefarmer) February 27, 2022
Footage circulating on social media showed them throwing rocks at the crowd. Witnesses also said they used iron bars and machetes to attack CCC members.
“The abuse of police [is] unacceptable. We had no single police officer in Highfield or at any of our rallies. Our rallies are not covered by police. They just disrupt our activities. Police are only for Zanu-PF. They don’t have police to cover the rally, but they have police and an arsenal to block us,” Chamisa wrote in a tweet.
THE ABUSE OF POLICE UNACCEPTABLE..We had no single policeman in Highfield or at any of our rallies.Our rallies are not covered by police.They just disrupt our activities.Police are only for Zpf. They dont have police to cover the rally,but they have police and arsenal to block us pic.twitter.com/RceqXl8lhr
— nelson chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) February 26, 2022
Maimane chimed in, telling Mnangagwa that “the world is not going to tolerate thuggery any more”.
“Do not use the police to frustrate your political opponents @Emmerson Mnangagwa. You think you are [Russian President Vladimir] Putin but you are quarter [late Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe. The world is not going to tolerate thuggery any more. SA is already paying the price for your brutality and corruption,” Maimane wrote in a tweet.
Do not use the police to frustrate your political opponents @edmnangagwa, you think you are Putin but you are quarter Mugabe.
The world is not going to tolerate thuggery anymore.
South Africa is already paying the price for your brutality and corruption.
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) February 27, 2022
The violence came a day after the country’s vice president Constantino Chiwenga said the ruling party would “crush” the opposition, fuelling fears of a new wave of state-sponsored violence.
2. The murder comes barely 24 hours after Zimbabwe’s Vice President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga threatened to “crush” CCC supporters. This hate language & the protection that political thugs get from the state incentives political violence pic.twitter.com/CtqbmkCFJ2
— Alex T Magaisa 🇿🇼 (@Wamagaisa) February 27, 2022
On Saturday, the police used violence to disperse hundreds of opponents in Gokwe, some 140km (87 miles) away from Kwekwe, on the pretext that they lacked the personnel to supervise the rally properly.
“We condemn the unbridled violence,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told AFP on Sunday.
“We demand an end to the political persecution and incitement of senior Zanu leaders who threatened that they will ‘crush CCC like lice’. This is not acceptable in a democracy.”
President Mnangagwa, successor in 2017 to Robert Mugabe who reigned with an iron fist for 37 years, is often accused of wanting to muzzle any opposition.
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Compiled by Betha Madhomu
Additional reporting by AFP