HARARE – As both political tension and citizen anxiety over the country’s worsening economy continue to rise, the government is planning a major crackdown on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and civil society organisations — who are blamed for the rising anger by ordinary Zimbabweans, as well as the recent mass actions across the country.

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tsvangiraiReliable sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, that President Robert Mugabe’s under pressure Zanu PF administration had been rattled by Tsvangirai’s resurgence as a significant local political force, as well as the recent riots and mass demonstrations that had been witnessed in Harare and elsewhere in the country.

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“Since the 2013 elections, the common view within Zanu PF was that Tsvangirai was finished as a major political force. But recent events, including his massive rally that he held in Highfield, as well as intelligence reports that suggest that his popularity is rising have put the fear of God among senior (Zanu PF and government) officials.

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“As you know, Zanu PF is riven and incapacitated by its continuing succession battles, largely because all (its) aspiring leaders understand that it is impossible for President Mugabe to stand as the party’s presidential candidate in the fast-approaching 2018 elections.

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“This is the climate within which (party) hardliners are plotting a major crackdown on the MDC and civil society, in an endeavour to slow down Tsvangirai whom they fear will easily defeat any of the aspiring party (Zanu PF) leaders, including ED (Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa) in a free and fair election,” a senior Zanu PF official said.

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However, he added, there was no consensus within the party that “strong arm tactics” as had been witnessed in the recent three-day siege on the MDC’s Harare headquarters by riot police, was the best way to contain Tsvangirai.

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“Some sober minds including Ngwena (Mnangagwa) are saying that a crackdown will have the opposite effect of what hardliners are advocating, which is why he (Mnangagwa) was quite emphatic in Parliament recently that the abduction of (pro-democracy activist Itai) Dzamara was barbaric and unacceptable,” he said.

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Another well-placed source confirmed that all law enforcement agencies were on high alert, particularly as it was also feared that the MDC was now benefitting “from strategic input by the allies of (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru”.

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“There are high level meetings everyday to assess the security situation in the country, given the recent riots and demonstrations. Obviously, Tsvangirai and NGOs are under serious and constant surveillance as there is fear that they are agitating for a rebellion.

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“It is also thought that Mai Mujuru’s henchmen are now feeding strategy and intelligence to Tsvangirai as they know the system inside out, which means that they also need to be monitored strongly” he said.

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A recent leaked South African intelligence revealed that the country’s civil society organisations and independent media houses were being spied on by the combined forces of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and South African intelligence.

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The spying project was leaked to global news network Al-Jazeera and well-regarded British newspaper, The Guardian, early this month.

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It also emerged over the course of last week that Mugabe and Zanu PF were running scared over Tsvangirai’s trip to America, fearing that this would give the MDC leader a new lease on his political life.

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Throughout the week, lickspittle State media reported that Tsvangirai had travelled to the United States to meet with the authorities of that country and to secretly raise funds for his party ahead of 2018.

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In many of the conspiratorial reports, the State media also said the MDC, Mujuru and unidentified right wing forces in the United States were working together in a bid to render Zimbabwe ungovernable and create conditions for the creation of another inclusive government.

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Tsvangirai was also fingered by the same media as the alleged brains behind the recent demonstrations at Chikurubi Maximum Prison and the University of Zimbabwe — and rather bizarrely, also for the disappearance of Dzamara.

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However, Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson said yesterday that all these “useless conspiracies” merely indicated that Zanu PF was running scared of the former Prime Minister as all along the party had been fooling itself that he was finished.

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“Zanu PF is in panic mode and everyone can see that. They are formulating conspiracy theories on Tsvangirai but unfortunately and unwittingly they are confirming that he is a powerful brand in Zimbabwe.

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“It is ridiculous that they said Morgan Tsvangirai was politically finished on 31 July 2013, and now they say he is so powerful as to be the one influencing demonstrations in the country.

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“You can see clearly that if there is anything finished it’s the lies that Zanu PF has been peddling that Tsvangirai is a spent force. On the contrary he is a powerful figure in the political landscape of Zimbabwe and that is why there is so much hullaballoo over a mere trip to the US that he has undertaken.

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“Since Mugabe came back from his annual leave he has been in the air, globetrotting but we haven’t heard so much noise. But Tsvangirai goes on one trip and Zanu PF goes on panic mode,” Tamborinyoka said.

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State media columnist, Nathaniel Manheru — widely understood to be Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba wrote in his column in the Herald yesterday that Tsvangirai was in the US to allegedly source funds for regime change.

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“The real story lies in the renewal of the executive order by Obama recently, which has been read in MDC-T circles to imply continued US hostility towards Mugabe and Zanu-PF. And for them, American hatred for Zanu-PF must mean American love for MDC-T.

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“In their reckoning, the Americans know no other group in Zimbabwe on which to predicate their interests, something likely to lead to a shocking realisation on MDC-T part.

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“Of course the recent report by the US Council on Foreign Relations shows an America which sees Zimbabwe as on the cusp or eve of unstructured change, one providing opportunities for the furtherance of US interests in the country and region.

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“The focus has shifted towards dynamics within Zanu-PF, with the best that the MDC-T can ever hope as being to play tandem to whatever force US hopes to support for overwhelming traction. This possibly explains why our man had to be ‘with White House’,” Manheru wrote. – Daily News