By Leopold Munhende
FOREIGN Affairs Minister, Sibusiso Moyo Tuesday defended the brutal crackdown on protesters who had defied police and went ahead with an MDC demonstration that had been banned for security reasons by the law enforcement agents.
The heavy-handed police response invited strong condemnation by Western powers.
Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing, Moyo said that statements by the European Union (EU), UK, United States and other western powers could not be allowed to determine how Zimbabwean police should operate.
“Yes I have just heard about those comments by a number of capitals but that is their right; that is their independent positions. Our positions are that sanctions are outdated.
“To try and bring the issue of police reaction, it (police) is an independent organ of the State which makes its own assessment and deals with situations as they assess.”
Moyo said by banning the MDC demonstration, police were in their legal rights to do so.
“They made a legal position. It (decision) was challenged (in court) and unfortunately it was not successful. Thereafter, they proceeded with the demonstration which was now fundamentally an illegal demonstration in terms of the law,” said Moyo.
“We always as government desire that the police should use commensurate force in response to demonstrators.”
Baton wielding police Friday descended on a group of suspected MDC supporters who defiantly staged their demonstration regardless of the police position and that of the courts.
Scenes of elderly women, men and youths being savaged by police went viral on social media, spotlighting on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sincerity in his pledge to build a just society.
On Friday, some angry protesters also marched through President Mnangagwa’s official offices at Munhumutapa Building.
Members of the elite Presidential Guard unit were forced to cock and point loaded AK47 assault rifles towards the protestors.
Moyo felt the police should have been on top of the situation.
“It is a very subjective matter to say at what point when the protestors wanted to enter Munhumutapa building.
“What could the police have done except throw smoke…I think we must be clear here about the circumstance, about the situation which has been developing on the ground.”
The police crackdown on unarmed civilians was seen as another dent on President Mnangagwa’s reengagement efforts with the rich West.
Moyo felt the process should go on regardless of the situation on the ground.
“Re-engagement is a process it is not an event and it takes two,” added Moyo.