Information Minister Monice Mutsvangwa yesterday said that the government insisted that the Movement for Democratic Change was involved in organising the anti-government protests which turned violent last month because it had intelligence reports to that effect.
Mutsvangwa was responding to a question by Senator Tichinani Mavetera who argued that the government’s insistence that the MDC was involved in organising the protests when it was known that they were organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was divisive.
“This country has intelligence, there is nothing that happens in this country which intelligence does not pick,” Mutsvangwa responded.
“There is a threat on this country for regime change and that is the information which is there. On the 3rd to the 7th of November, meetings were held at Wild Geese, it is on record. On the 12th of January, a meeting was held in Belvedere and there is a record.
“So, when they report, they report from the reports coming from our intelligence and our security institutions. So, this is what we need to understand, there is no country which does not have – and we would not be where we are and would not have enjoyed peace if we did not have intelligence and security institutions which are concerned about the security of its citizens.”
Some reports have said the Belvedere meeting was held on 11 January.
HON. SEN. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. I want to know whether they are many centres of information in this country. I think if we look at history in other countries, the source of disorder comes from information. If you look at the Rwanda story, it was actually information which was peddled by the media which ended up with genocide in the country. I am talking with reference to our country. I think our Head of State from his time of inauguration was preaching peace and unity amongst the people. We have got a very unfortunate situation which happened a few weeks ago where a labour issue actually organised by the labour body ended up being apportioned to MDC Alliance and MDC Alliance was now the main player. If it was rumours from the streets, we would not be worried but it was peddled by ZBC and writteb it as headlines. Do you have evidence to show that? If not, I think we need to be responsible as a country because what ZBC is peddling is potential genocidal, dividing the country…
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Sen. Mavetera, ask the question you are now putting a motion.
HON. SEN. MAVETERA: It is dividing the country. What I want to know is; are those stables under your purview? What is said in ZBC, is that the policy or the position of you as Minister responsible for information?
THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Thank you very much. I think the question is actually referring to the disturbances which happened in the country in the last two weeks, which are regrettable and which should never happen among our people because we know Zimbabweans as peace loving people. What happened in Zimbabwe is not the culture of Zimbabweans. I want to make it very clear that the peace which we have enjoyed in this country from the time Zimbabwe became independent is not a gift from foreign countries, it comes from within our Zimbabweans – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
Section 59 of our Constitution talks to the freedom of demonstration but that gives you also the responsibility of making sure that you demonstrate peacefully, that is acceptable. If people have got frustrations or whatever they want to vent out, they can do it according to the law. What we saw was not a protest but was an uprising. We saw hooligans, we saw criminals looting shops, looting tuck shops. A man who is trying to make a living to look after his family in the suburbs there trying to do a genuine way of looking after his family, the tuck shop was torched, cars were torched, and even a policeman on duty was stoned to death. The roads were barricaded; innocent citizens of this country wanted to go and continue to do their everyday work without hindrance but were actually being disrupted. We lost lives and this is unnecessary in this country. I must say when I speak about this, let us talk about Zimbabweans, what is our culture? What is it that we value most? We value peace and I am happy that the Government’s intervention managed to contain that situation and now peace is prevailing which allows every Zimbabwean citizen the right to go wherever they want to go in a peaceful manner.
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