The Minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo today warned protesters that the government will unleash its machinery on them without hesitation if they continue with protests. He was addressing journalists at his Mukwati Building offices in Harare flanked by Minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramai and State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi.
Chombo accused protesters of pushing a regime change agenda that is sponsored by the west and warned those involved yesterday would be brought to book.
He said “The violence that took place yesterday was premeditated. Those behind it will be made accountable.”
The minister also appeared to threaten opposition political parties that have vowed to continue with their protest with or without police clearance. “If police say they cannot march then they will not march. If they elect to march unlawfully then they are breaking the law. The police are there to protect citizens from law breakers.”
Earlier the opposition political parties held a press conference of their own and told journalists that they had approached the courts after police refused to give them permission to go on with their march. Police said that the 150 000 people expected to attend the protest march were big number that police would not be able to contain.
However Minister Chombo appeared to contradict the position of the police when he revealed that police had enough manpower and resources to contain tomorrow’s protest.
“If you think that police do not have enough resources to deal with violent protests then let those people go ahead with their march tomorrow” he said.
Told by journalists that there were cabinet ministers who had expressed outrage against police brutality, Chombo said that he was not aware of any cabinet minister who condoned yesterdays ‘looting and destruction of property’. Minister of Information Chris Mushohwe and Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo have publicly criticised police heavy handedness in dealing with protesters.