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July 31 Demo: They thought we would play to their plan

MDC Alliance deputy organising secretary Job Sikhala says the planned 31st July demo was a resounding success, adding that it managed to bring the entire country to a standstill.

In preparation to squash the proposed demo the government had deployed soldiers and police officers around the country.

In Harare, these soldiers and police officers went around forcing shops to close and turned people away from entering the central business district (CBD).

Today the majority of the citizens opted to stay home resulting in near total shutdown of the CBD.

However, the presence of deployed security forces did not deter some human rights activists and political figures from expressing themselves in their localities.

Some of the prominent people who participated in the demo include MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere and writer Tsitsi Dangarembga who have since been arrested.

In a statement, Job Sikhala said the state was expecting to see them in the streets but that was not the strategy of the demo, adding that people are more sophisticated than the oppressors.

“They thought we were gong to express ourselves according to their prescription, but today we have shown as Zimbabweans that we are people who cannot be taken for granted.

“We are more sophisticated than the oppressor, we have expressed ourselves in an unprecedented way in the history of our nation, we had two clear plans when we were calling for this action for the 31st July,” he said.

According to Sikhala, “The first one was that if citizens are able to express themselves in the streets so be it, the second one was an expectation that the state would unleash its massive military arsenal against the citizens and the citizens will successful retreat to their homes.

“So today Zimbabwe has witnessed an unprecedented shutdown, everything is at a standstill this is Zimbabweans speaking. You have spoken people of Zimbabwe.”

The Zengeza West legislator added that their plan today helped expose the state’s intentions and evil plans to butcher the innocent citizens through deployment of armed soldiers and police officers into the streets.

“They thought we were going to play to their plans where they were going to butcher our innocent citizens but our innocent citizens are more sophisticated and clever than them, the regime had worked a plan already but today we have exposed it by the way we acted,” he said.

In an interview, ARTUZ secretary general Robson Chere concurred with Sikhala adding that they managed to trick the government into deploying the military and the police for nothing.

“Today’s demonstration went on well, we have managed to trick the enemy, they have deployed, bloody thirst sucking vampires baying for innocent blood of the civilians but at the end of the day they did not see the innocent civilians in the streets.

“People have heeded the call for a national sat down and in future we are also going to employ these diversionary tactics that this corrupt system will not be able to sustain.

“Today they suffered a huge loss deploying at a high cost the state security apparatus but at the end of the day they did not find innocent civilians in the streets,” he said.

The demonstration is a brainchild of Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume who was arrested a week ago on charges of inciting citizens to engage in violent activities through the proposed demo.

Ngarivhume is currently remanded in custody together with investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who played an instrumental role in exposing the Covidgate scandal.

Also speaking on the issue, Washington DC based foreign policy expert Pearl Matibe said the demo helped to put the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans on the spotlight and at the same time exposing acts of abuse by the security agents.

“The 31st July street demonstrations, while hampered by gross human rights abuses by uniformed and armed soldiers and police, put a spotlight on the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“The security sector succeeded in showing the international community how it conducts itself amid reports of abductions, arrests, ransom-taking and threats targeting those exercising constitutional rights who were observing physical distancing during COVID-19,” she said.

Activist Nqo Mlambo also concurred that the demo was a success, adding that the security forces actually demonstrated on behalf of the people.

“It was a success because like all suffering Zimbabweans, security forces demonstrated on our behalf, while we escaped the potential ravages of COVID-19 that would have been posed by millions on dirty and smelly streets of Harare, Mutare, Chipinge, Bulawayo, Gweru, Kadoma, Rusitu, Malipati, Chikombedzi, Gwanda, Lupane and Victoria Falls, he said.

In terms of way forward, Job Sikhala said people should not retreat adding that they are going to review the situation over the weekend and announce the next steps by Monday.

“Our people must remain resolved we are going to have a review of the situation this weekend and we are going to give you a way forward by Monday.

“We cannot retreat and it must remain protracted until we have achieved and obtained our results, victory is coming,” said Sikhala.

Meanwhile, police also briefly arrested lawyer Obey Shava and his clients Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa who were going to Harare Central Police Station for reporting in line with their bail conditions.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is the news editor for OpenParlyZW an online platform that covers Parliament of Zimbabwe activities using social media (Twitter and Facebook). He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum and a board member of Digital Communication Network.

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