Chrispen Chebundo Correspondent
The recent shutdown which was called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and its partners has put the private media into overdrive of painting a gloomy picture of Zimbabwe locally, regionally and internationally.
The so-called independent media is now openly casting the Government and security forces in bad light. NewsDay, The Daily News and The Standard have gone to the extent of dishing out propaganda, which is dangerous, with the aim of propagating anarchy in the country.
The private media has seen no evil or wrongdoing on the part of organisers of the violent stayaway, the looters and rioters who openly started on an offensive warpath by barricading roads, burning tyres, chasing away teachers from schools, and destroying Government buildings, police stations and private property without any iota of provocation.
The shutdown never started peacefully as portrayed in some sections of the media. It is a known fact that by midnight on January 13 2019, some roads in Harare and Bulawayo had already been blocked by rowdy and violent crowds.
The hooligans had already started to position themselves for violence and attacked key Government institutions and infrastructure.
The rioters engaged in a hide and seek as some hid in maize fields while throwing boulders, stones, logs and all sorts of objects onto the roads. This was the case in Hatcliffe (Domboshava Road near ARDA Farm), Mabvuku, Ruwa, Kuwadzana, Mbare, Chitungwiza, Nkulumane, Pumula, Cowdray Park and other towns.
How can one justify the volume of the crowd which thronged police stations in Harare, Marondera and Bulawayo with the brazen aim of wanton destruction, violence and threats to kill which led to the death of a harpless police officer.
The private media has not questioned the trail of destruction and injury to police officers. Instead, opposition sympathisers are now seen commenting and propagating anti-Government statements which are one-sided and biased against the State.
Some media organisations are even quoting statements by the likes of Terrance Mukupe, a discredited figure. Is he an authoritative commentator? No. He cannot be relied upon to give substance on the events in Zimbabwe.
It is a fact that Mukupe is known for his tantrums just like the fallen from grace Jonathan Moyo. Mukupe should not vent his election loss on security forces as his utterances before the election contributed to his downfall.
The private media has missed the point that the stayaway was not peaceful at all but real acts of aggression aimed at completely overthrowing a constitutionally elected Government.
No one has even questioned the position of those who claim they were injured during the shutdown. Some of the people who participated in the looting and destruction of properties are now claiming sympathy from NGOs and media through fabricated stories of innocence yet pictures shown in local and international media show otherwise.
The actors in the so-called private media who are accusing the military and police for holding a press conference should go on the ground and see for themselves some of the loot and character of people arrested by the police. There is no need for the private media to spread falsehoods when it comes to the security of the State.
It appears the private media wants to please their masters who are funding them to cast the Government and our security forces as evil. While the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for peaceful demonstrations, nowhere does it give rights or previlege to wantonly attack and destroy property in the country.
The Deputy Chief Secretary to the Cabinet and Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba is correct to say that the internet has been used to promote violence and polarisation in Zimbabwe and in the process compromise the security apparatus. The private media has thus taken over the role of the social media in the form of NewsDay, the Daily News and Zimbabwe Independent.
The Government of Zimbabwe and security forces should hold the private media accountable for their machinations which are showing the involvement of a visible third hand in the country’s socio and economic challenges. Are we saying it is the security forces which instigated the stayaway or shutdown? Does the private media know the difference between a peaceful stayaway and violent shutdown?
Concept of Stayaway or Shutdown
Research has shown that the concept of a stayaway or shutdown entails that people or workers stay at home if they do not go into their workplaces for the said day or period. No one, therefore, engages in any form of violence such as barricading roads, destroying infrastructure, looting property and killing unarmed police officers.
A peaceful stayaway means no one runs amok and perpetraates orgies of violence to destroy Government and private infrastructure. Surely, can you expect law enforcement agents to stand akimbo while the whole world is watching looters running away with stolen goods?
If members of the public engage in a stayaway and are at home with no form of violence, destruction and damage to property, would there be need for security forces to move in and arrest them? Stayaway means refraining from any form of violence and looting of property. A peaceful demonstration does not involve destruction of property and doing all sorts of nefarious illegal acts.
The Government cannot fold its hands while hooliganism is taking root in society. Looters and their handlers are failures who are chasing investors away and want to see the country suffering. I rest my case.