By Kingston Ndabatei
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned that heads and will roll over to the violence which rocked Zimbabwe following nationwide protests by pro-democracy groups and labour unions last week.
In a statement on his Twitter page hours after returning home from a four-nation tour of Eurasia was cut short by the instability in the country Mnangagwa said the reaction by the security services to the violent protests that left some 12 people dead was unacceptable.
The protests were triggered by a massive fuel price hike that had a domino effect on other goods and services across the country, but the President said he had been aware his decision would be unpopular.
“One week ago, I announced measures to stabilise our nation’s crucial fuel supply. I was aware that these measures may not be popular, and this was not a decision we took lightly. But it was the right thing to do,” said Mnangagwa.
Amid global condemnation of the actions of the military which follows another deadly crackdown on August 1 2018 that left half a dozen people dead, Mnangagwa appeared intent on a pacification exercise.
“What followed was regrettable and tragic. Everyone has the right to protest, but this was not a peaceful protest,” he said.
“Wanton violence and cynical destruction; looting police stations, stealing guns and uniforms; incitement and threats of violence. This is not the Zimbabwean way.”
Protesters burnt down police and fuel stations as well as other infrastructure, but the military reacted with brute force which the Zanu PF leader said was a betrayal of his new vision.
“Likewise, violence or misconduct by our security forces is unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe.
“Chaos and insubordination will not be tolerated. Misconduct will be investigated. If required, heads will roll,” the President said.
While Mnangagwa has previously rejected opposition calls for dialogue, the statement suggested a shift on his part.
“I invite leaders of all political parties as well as religious and civil leaders to set aside our differences and come together.
“What unites us is stronger than what could ever divide us. Let’s begin a national dialogue. Let’s put the economy first. Let’s put the people,” said Mnangagwa.
Cycles of state-sponsored violence have become a common feature in Zimbabwe’s political landscape and Mnangagwa seems to be following his predecessor former President Robert Mugabe’s beaten path.