Mnangagwa urges national dialogue, blasts violent protests

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By Kingston Ndabatei

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday appeared to tone done his anti-opposition rhetoric when he urged dialogue among Zimbabweans from all walks of life.

The Zimbabwean leader is under fire for his government’s violent crackdown on Zimbabweans who took to the streets last week to protest the hike in fuel prices.

He was on Monday forced to abandon his five nation tour of Eurosia citing the need to return home and deal with a national crisis that has seen the military brutalise citizens caught or suspected of involvement in the violent skirmishes.

Mnangagwa appeared to be climbing down on earlier sentiments he was not going to engage in dialogue with political opponents and critics.

“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.

In his comments, Mnangagwa also vowed to deal with perpetrators of the violence as well as investigating brutalities by the military against civilians with 12 deaths recorded.

He also defended his government’s decision to hike fuel prices by more than half.

“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,” he said.

He added, “What followed was regrettable and tragic. Everyone has the right to protest, but this was not a peaceful protest.

“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 that 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.