Mnangagwa threatens to arrest Nelson Chamisa over planned protests

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned that opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa could be arrested if he continues to incite his supporters to picket at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s offices in a bid to disrupt Monday’s general elections.

The threat came as police blocked Chamisa’s planned mass demonstrations scheduled for today, with the law enforcers citing manpower shortages.

The opposition presidential candidate has vowed to block the holding of elections until ZEC guarantees transparency and security of the vote.

Addressing a ZANU-PF campaign rally at Mubaira growth point in Mhondoro, Mnangagwa said the law would deal with any malcontents bent on disturbing the peace obtaining in the country ahead of the polls.

“As political parties, we signed a pledge for peace ahead of elections,” Mr. Mnangagwa said.  “All 55 parties taking part in the elections signed, but to my surprise, some little boy and a small party turns around to say he wants to shut down Harare.”  “He is our son, we allow him to traverse throughout the country asking for your vote, but if he chooses chaos, law and order will prevail.”

The ZANU-PF presidential candidate warned his arch-rival, saying: “If you act in a peaceful manner, we will not touch you. You will stay in opposition doing your things while time moves and we will continue ruling over you. We can’t close out opposition because we need it. If it’s not there, then we won’t have anyone to rule over.”

The threats of arrest also came as ZEC and opposition parties yesterday reached a deadlock over how next week’s elections would be conducted, with the electoral body insisting there was no more room for further concessions on the electoral road map.

Zimbabwe’s opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa, left, of the Movement for Democratic Change speaks at a news conference. Picture: Reuters

Chamisa has since called for an emergency meeting with his close lieutenants today to review the situation.

In turning down the MDC Alliance demonstration, Harare police boss, identified as Chief Superintendent A Ncube, said they were now busy with election preparations and could not spare some officers to escort the demonstrators.

Chamisa has bitterly complained about the way Zec has handled the pre-election process, especially the printing of ballots, which he described as controversial.

According to MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, the party’s national executive will meet today to decide their next course of action following the latest developments.

“This (ban) is totally unfair and uncalled for. It’s a ploy by ZANU-PF to slow us down. Our previous demonstrations have been peaceful and exemplary. There was no need to ban it, as if there would be violence,” he said.