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‘Shame on you merchants of violence’

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday sternly warned opposition parties with violent tendencies that the full wrath of the law will be applied on them without fear or favour as the Government does not brook anarchy designed to sully the country’s image especially ahead of major international gatherings.

This comes as opposition CCC members last week went on a rampage destroying property and attacking people in Chitungwiza’s Nyatsime suburb.

Addressing mourners at the burial of national hero, Major General (Retired) Sydney Bhebhe, at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the violent machinations are part of the CCC’s attention-seeking antics that are meant to cast aspersions on the country’s engagement and re-engagement efforts ahead of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that is taking place in Rwanda this week.

He said the Government will not stand by and watch the opposition waging violence against peace-loving Zimbabweans.

CCC supporters left a trail of destruction in Nyatsime, burning houses and properties for people belonging to Zanu PF during the funeral wake of a Chitungwiza woman, Moreblessing Ali, whose body was found mutilated and dumped in a well.

“What happened recently in the Nyatsime township of Chitungwiza is deplorable and should never be repeated. The nation is now familiar with these shenanigans and incidences of staged violence, which are designed to tarnish the image of Zimbabwe, especially ahead of major international meetings,” said President Mnangagwa.

“This time, the destabilising and violent theatrics by opposition elements are being done ahead of the CHOGM meeting in Rwanda. Shame on you, if you are the leader of a political party which thrives on violence and the insecurity of our people to be relevant, shame, shame, shame on you!”

He said the life and property of every Zimbabwean are important and will be protected by his Government.

“Our security apparatus are on alert. We will not stand by and watch the good image of our nation as well as the safety and security of our people being desecrated by rogue pseudo politicians who receive dirty money to torment their own African kith and kin.

“I call upon the nation at large, across all provinces, districts and wards to refuse to be used by self-seeking charlatans, masquerading as politicians. Rambai kushandiswa kuita violence. Parents and guardians, please guide our youth accordingly. Violence does not pay,” the President said.

Turning to the 2023 harmonised elections, President Mnangagwa said there was a need to entrench democracy, good governance and constitutionalism prevailing in the country, but never to abuse it.

“Our political contestations must never degenerate into violence, No! Let us honour the departed heroes and heroines who selflessly fought for our beloved country by maintaining peace, unity, love and harmony,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said it was regrettable that the country continued to attract unwarranted interest from its former colonisers, who together with their supremacist proxies, mistakenly think that Zimbabwe is a province of their territories.

“These meddlesome countries and their lobbyists, under various guises, preach democracy and good governance by day, whilst sponsoring and instigating nefarious activities, violence and instability in our country by night.

“This is part of their long-held, brute strategies to reverse the gains we have made in consummating our independence, self-determination, sovereignty, economic empowerment and total freedom of our people, which is now embodied in our country’s development philosophy, “Nyika inovakwa, inotongwa, nevene vayo/Ilizwe liyakhwa, libuswe ngabanikazi,” he said.

“The law will take effect and its application will be without fear or favour. No one is above the law. I, thus, call upon our communities throughout the country to be vigilant against these destabilising and hateful political parties. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Do not allow outsiders from your communities to come and disturb the peace and harmony in your areas. Violence has no place in the Zimbabwe we are building. We want peace, peace, peace, love and harmony.”

President Mnangagwa said it was equally disheartening that some misguided young people were peddling a grossly false narrative that life under the racist and supremacist lan Smith’s Rhodesian Government was better than life after independence.

“The onus is on the older generation to constantly explain to the youth of our country that lan Smith, and those present day counter-revolutionaries with similar inclinations, personify the plunder and pillage of our motherland. These groups of unrepentant supremacists seek to make Zimbabwe a country where Africans are disenfranchised and turned into puppets for their elitist economic benefits. Such colonial-inspired capitalist domination, under whatever guise, will never be accepted in this country,” he said.

Turning to national hero Maj-Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe, who died on June 13 2022, President Mnangagwa described him as a true patriot and decorated senior officer of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

He said yesterday’s gathering was testimony that the country was fast losing cadres from a generation of freedom fighters who gallantly fought in the armed liberation struggle during the Second Chimurenga.

In the past four weeks, the country lost two other decorated General Officers that include Major-General Godfrey (Rtd) Chanakira and Major-General  (Rtd) Sikhulile Simpson Nyathi.

“He served his country with unflinching loyalty, always guided by the national interest and selfless patriotism. The late Major-General Bhebhe was a humble, honest, reserved and unassuming man, yet an astute, fearless, and reliable military officer. He consistently and persistently fought for his country, before and after independence, rising to the rank of Major-General, in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” President Mnangagwa said.

The history of the liberation struggle, he said, cannot be left to the authorship of those who seek to belittle it and efforts by various stakeholders, including the Museum of African Liberation, must be scaled up and accelerated towards documenting, archiving and exhibiting the true story of our liberation struggle.

Born on December 30, 1960, to Reverend Lika Mukhuwa Bhebhe and Mrs Bongani Bhebhe in Mberengwa District, under Chief Mtevaidze in the Midlands Province, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe did primary education in his home area and secondary education at Masase Secondary School from 1974 to 1977.

Riled by the racist and brutal Rhodesian system, the late Major-General, like many of his contemporaries, abandoned his studies and left to join the liberation struggle in Zambia via Botswana.

On arrival in Zambia, the late Maj-Gen (Rtd) Bhebe, whose nom de guerre was Cde “Yengani Dhlodhlo”, stayed briefly at Nampundwe Transit Camp until December 1977 when their group became the second to be flown to Angola for initial military training which saw the group receiving training at the Boma Training Camp.

Owing to his mastery of military concepts, his Cuban and Soviet Specialist trainers selected him to become one of the instructors at the same Training Camp which was eventually bombed by the enemy, resulting in the death of 190 cadres and injuries to over 500 others including him.

He was evacuated to Luwena and later transferred to Luanda for further medical assistance due to the severity of his injuries before being taken to a Recuperation Centre.

Upon his full recovery, the late Major-General remained unwavering in his conviction to fight for the liberation of his country and that saw him returning to Boma Training Camp to resume duties as Commissar and Instructor for the training units.

He was part of a group of instructors that accompanied 1 800 trained fighters to Zambia on their way to the front.

On return from the assignment to Zambia, he was deployed to Malanje Camp, which comprised other trainees from Umkhonto we-Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, where he trained more recruits.

At independence, the late General Officer was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army on April 1, 1980. He had a distinguished and illustrious career in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces serving in various general duty command appointments, in administration and as a Defence Attaché to Ethiopia.

Due to his selfless sacrifices, loyalty, patriotism and associated achievements, the late national hero was awarded the Liberation Medal; Independence Medal; Ten Years’ Service Medal; Long and Exemplary Service Medal; Mozambican Campaign Medal; Democratic Republic of Congo Campaign Medal and the Grand Officer of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit Award.

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