There is no doubt that something has been brewing over the past few weeks that we have come to know as a regime change plot openly supported by the United States Embassy in Harare. As we report elsewhere in this issue, the embassy declared interest in ongoing attempts at the destabilisation of Zimbabwe by encouraging citizens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to demonstrate “peacefully”, in the name of exercising democratic rights.
Similar calls were made by the opposition and civil society players, with a shadowy network called Pachedu coming uncannily close to revealing its controlling hands by posting a strikingly similar message to that of the US Embassy.
Yesterday was supposed to be yet another “shutdown”.
We have come to know what this construct of a “shutdown” is: it is an opposition (and foreign-funded) state of violence and subversion in which the actors aim to bring down the Government by forcing businesses to close shop, prevent movement of people and goods and unleash violence on people and businesses that do not cooperate.
While in the darkness of the shutdown, violent thugs move around stealing, looting, vandalising property and destroying Government installations such as police stations, offices and toll plazas.
The banditry is calculated to render the country ungovernable. The country comes under the rule of warlords that then rule the streets and ghettos, subjecting the country to chaos.
In this calculation, the law enforcement agencies of the country will be either crippled or overwhelmed by the sheer force of organisation and asymmetry of warfare. An important point bears making.
Those people who are charged with leading this subversion are well-trained in undertaking and coordinating activities on a massive scale and using different platforms to effectively run the operation.
This is where foreign training, which security watchers in the country have already flagged, comes in. Some local and foreign training has been extended to certain individuals and organisations in the country with previous episodes such as the January violence going according to this script.
It will be necessary at this point to note that the campaign and template used on Zimbabwe is currently being experimented in other countries such as Venezuela that are targeted for regime change.
With this background, we therefore find it quite fascinating that the US Embassy in Harare is heavily involved. One will also recall that a fortnight ago, the US issued a travel advisory on Zimbabwe that predicted demonstrations and other violent actions that would endanger the lives of US citizens.
At the time of the issuance of the warning, many people felt that it was untimely and without substance. Only the game is longer. Add to that, the ongoing madness around the exchange rates, prices and fuel shortages.
Something is smelling, and smelling badly. Now the hand of the foreigner is no longer that covert.
When the US Embassy in Harare makes a desperate call for citizens to rise against their government — ostensibly peacefully and in the enjoyment of constitutional rights — we begin to see a picture coming together.
Zimbabwe is in danger and the critically important national issue of security must be addressed urgently. Government has a duty to protect citizens and guard against activities that disturb the peace in the country and beyond.
Some of the intelligence about activities of certain individuals and organisations has been known already. Plotters must not be allowed to get away with murder.
Not even in the United States would they be allowed to walk scot-free. They would be handled with stern care, and within the law. We cannot be an exception.
Outside of dealing with the authors and executioners of the mooted violent overthrow, it will be critical to pin down whoever is responsible for abetting the mooted subversion. These include business operators in the retail and fuel sectors.
There is no doubt about these sectors’ collusion.
Finally, a point has to be made — and this is for the benefit of the US and others — that there is a world of difference between the legitimate practice of demonstrating against authority (incorporating freedoms of movement and protest) as a constitutional imperative and doing so to cause the illegal change of Government.
Zimbabwe’s Constitution provides for elections as a means to change Government, bound to periodic elections.
Those that think change of Government can be achieved outside the law cannot be tolerated, whoever their friends are.