Govt sugar-coats effects of shutdown

Government yesterday tried to douse diplomatic fires when it addressed members of the diplomatic community on the current state of affairs after this week’s shutdown and protests that resulted in about nine deaths and infrastructure being destroyed.

BY VANESSA GONYE

Foreign Affairs acting minister Cain Mathema told the diplomats at a meeting in Harare that the stayaway, organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and social movements, resulted in excessive damage and loss of life.

“As you will all have witnessed, the recent stayaway was neither civil nor peaceful and was characterised by the worst violence that this nation has witnessed in the recent past. Right from the start, the stayaway was characterised by horrific scenes of attacks on other citizens, police and law and order institutions and infrastructure, general arson on State and private citizen businesses, looting, criminality and general terror, perpetrated mostly by organised terror and vigilante groups,” he said.

“There was loss of life. Three persons, including a police officer, died during the chaos, where there was wanton destruction of private and State-owned property, including cars and police stations, road infrastructure such as toll gates and fuel stations.”

Mathema alleged there was a political hand behind the events.

“The government is also keenly aware that the recent confrontation has been fomented by extraneous forces guised as civil society groups or non-governmental organisations in the pursuit of a nefarious agenda of unseating a constitutional government,” he said.

“The government is convinced that the protestors had the hallmarks of a predetermined political agenda and that the identity of the personas and powers behind them is common knowledge.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Angolan ambassador to Zimbabwe and deputy dean of the diplomatic community, Pedro Hendrik Vaal Neto, said: “We sincerely hope that this problem will be solved in a democratic manner and we are sure that the situation will be solved very soon.

“This opportunity will allow us to be in a position to know what is happening in the country.”