Why Zimbabwean’s won’t protest aganist Mugabe
By Hassan Isilow
CAPETOWN- Despite the fact that some African countries have started to emulate the Egyptian style protests,but dissatisfied Zimbabweans will not take the risk becouse they know, Robert Mugabe will not hesitate to use the military to ruthlessly crush them.
“If you look at history, in Egypt the military stood aside and allowed the people to protest peacefully. They didn’t join Mubarak’s side, however, in Zimbabwe the military is part and parcel of Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party,” Wilf Mbanga, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean News, told Africa Witness.
He said the Zimbabwean police has been stopping every kind of public gathering, fearing that such convergence could become a protest against the African leader who has been in powe since 1981. “We got the police – who are on edge – and the military – which is panicking that Zimbabweans might demonstrate tomorrow. But mark my words, such a demonstration would be crushed ruthlessly if any attempt is made to copy the uprising in Zimbabwe.”
According to Mbanga, Mugabe announced that he wanted to have the elections this year, but the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai, said it would not be possible, because a number of processes needed to be put in place before a free and fair election could be held.
“The opposition wants to have the elections next year, when we have had a new constitution that is acceptable to all people. The current constitution has been amended by the ZANU PF 19 times. On 18 occasions, the constitution was amended to give Mugabe more powers, and to take away peoples rights. So the opposition wants a new constitution all together before the election is held.” he said.
Mbanga said negotiations between the three parties in Zimbabwe’s ruling coalition, ZANU-PF and the two Movements for Democratic Change (MDC) formations remained deadlocked as talks opened on Thursday, with mediators expecting to break the deadlock before the crucial SADC summit in Namibia on May 20.
“The ZANU-PF is being asked to allow the security forces to do their job without favouring any political party. The Zimbabwean police and army is partisan. It behaves as if it is owned by the ZANU-PF. While the two MDC formations are saying the security should do their job professionally, the ZANU-PF’s position is that its out of bounds to discuss the security. So this is failing the negotiators and the deadlock continued,” the veteran journalist said.
He also said State Security agents were harassing vocal journalists in the country, after President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party refused to honor the 2009 agreement reached with the two Movements for Democratic change (MDC) formations, regarding media freedoms in the country.
“Under the 2009 agreement they agreed that they would free the air waves and allow the state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), to became a true state broadcaster by carrying news items of all political parties. However, the ZANU-PF has refused to respect this agreement.” He said the ruling party was almost in charge of running the affairs of the ZBC, because the state broadcaster had a partisan management body and staff members.
“As we speak, the ZBC has refused to even run paid for adverts from the two MDC political parties, but they are currently running jingles on behalf of the ZANU-PF for free.” Mbanga also said the ZANU-PF had refused to license independent community radio stations, but noted that the government had agreed to license a few newspaper ttles, which are currently on the market.
“Although they have agreed to license a few newspapers, state security agencies are now targeting individual journalists whom they are harassing,” he revealed, citing the example of the NewsDay newsroom which was attacked by unknown people on Easter Monday. Criminals who broke into the news room stole the editor’s laptop, hard drives and other components from computers used by senior editorial staff.
Journalists in Zimbabwe speculate that this could be the work of President Robert Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) which is keen on sniffing out the newspaper’s sources of news and information. The NewsDay Newspaper said the stolen equipment contained vital information.
The Zimbabwean government also issued a warrant of arrest for Mbanga in November last year, but this has not stopped him from publishing his popular The Zimbabwean Newspaper which is circulated in the SADC region, including Zimbabwe, in addition to being available on the internet.