By Ashley Kondo
Zimbabwe’s main opposition, MDC, is scheduled to take to the streets to protest against a supposedly deteriorating standard of life for citizens on 16 August 2019.
The right to peaceful protest and demonstrations is no doubt guaranteed by the Constitution.
However, the right to such demonstrations has often been abused as protesters have turned out to be violent and criminal as evidenced in previous destructive protests.
Accordingly, in the wake of violent protests, the country’s Security Forces have been vigilant enough to restore order and sanity in the country.
Surprisingly, this vigilance have been criticised as some form of repression of citizens’ democratic space, especially by foreign governments and bodies from the West, including the European Union collective.
Among the most vocal has been the United States (US) who evidently continue to make attempts to redefine the country’s democratic course and detect how the laws of the land should be effected.
Many will recall how the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Harrington, demanded Government to drop charges against opposition principal, Tendai Biti, who was arrested for violating electoral laws and inciting violence in aftermath of 2018 harmonised polls .
Failure to drop charges, according to Harrington, would have seen the US announcing further sanctions against Zimbabwe.
In January 2019, protests by opposition elements against an increment in the prices of fuel turned out to be violent, resulting in injuries, loss of lives and property.
The violence only ceased when members of the Security Forces were called in to quell the chaos which was fast degenerating into an insurgence.
While the West has a big brother mentality and an aptness to interfere in the internal affairs of other nation States, especially African ones, it should do so in good light and with respect for our territorial integrity.
Failure of which does not only undermine rule of law, but the core values and principles of democracy which it purports to stand for and champion.
Ironically, the scale of human rights violations in some western countries is unprecedented than in Africa.
For instances, the US police force continues to face criticism over its heavy handedness when dealing with black Americans who are shot to death daily on the streets of the purported “democratic” USA.
France, under President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership has evidently been strict and heavy-handed in quelling anti-Government protests, but other European countries have been mum about it.
Just recently, Macron issued a chilling warning against would be defiant protestors in his country. He said;
“Soldiers are not trained in law; they do not read people their rights. If you actually act in a way that the law enforcement agents fail to handle you and it is decided that the Army should be called in, don't expect them to read you your rights or handcuff you. No. They don't move around with handcuffs. They are trained to subdue enemies of the State and to kill such enemies and bring peace to a state within the shortest possible time. My warning to all those who would be demonstrators, France will not standby while infrastructure is destroyed. We shall employ the Army to bring order and if you die, it means you were at a wrong place at the wrong time where the Army did not want anyone to be. Stay at home or place of work and stay alive.”
Again France’s friends in the West played dumb to this message, but would be quick to counsel Zimbabwe on the same.
The West ought to appreciate that Zimbabwe is a democracy with a credible and sovereign system of governance that is guided by the country’s Constitution.
It is the State’s primary responsibility to uphold the country’s Constitution, not other countries’ views on how the affairs of this nation ought to be run.
Although Zimbabwe is keen to lure foreign investment into the country, it would not bow down to baseless demands and conditions imposed by the West.