All the President's Men: (from right to left - Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwengwa, Air Marshal Perence Shiri of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and General Sibanda, Commander of the Army)
Last weekend, I told you about Mugabe's speech at the burial of Vitalis Zvinavashe, the former Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Mugabe described those engaged in continuing violence that they were "enemies of Zimbabwe". Of course, the state media had prepared the ground by telling us over and over again that MDC supporters were torching the huts of ZANU PF supporters and beating them up.
Prior to this, General Chiwengwa, the current head of the Armed Forces of Zimbabwe, had also issued a "warning" to these people. Which was itself disturbing because we have never had an army commander issuing such orders, leaving it to politicians.
Now, however, my warnings are being borne out. Police in Buhera have arrested more than 20 MDC supporters and has charged them with violence. The MDC mayor of Mutare, as well as his deputy, were arrested TWICE. The two have now been released, but the other MDC supporters remain in jail.
The curious thing about this is that the MDC supporters supporters were apparently retaliating to the burning of a hut belonging to an MDC supporter. The MDC supporter is said to have told his colleagues at the funeral of Mrs Tsvangirai about the incident and they all piled into cars, drove to the culprit's homestead and burnt down his huts, as well as chicken runs. It is claimed some chickens got burnt in process as well!
The bottom line is this, really: the MDC continues to behave as though this is a normal coalition. You will notice that no ZANU PF supporters are being arrested in this wave of arrests, although their own acts of violence are being reported to the police.
Now, if the police do not react to these acts by the ZANU PF hooligans, certainly, MDC supporters will feel that they have to take the law into their own hands. The law itself has made it clear that they do not deserve any protection from ZANU PF thugs because they are MDC members.
Instead of warning these MDC supporters, shouldn't the government (only the government, the army should stay out of this) be warning its own police force that they should investigate and arrest people who engage in violence even if they are ZANU PF supporters.
Yesterday, Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC co-minister of Home Affairs, held a press conference together with his ZANU PF co-minister, Kembo Mohadi. During the press conference, they both gave warning to people who are engaged in violence. But it is clear that as far as the police, whom these men are in charge of, think this warning applies only to the MDC supporters.
And the MDC co-minister actually allows this? Why is he not at the very least speaking out against the selective arrests of members of his party?
You should expect that Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai's Zimbabwe will turn out to be no different to the Zimbabwe run only by Mugabe. This is intimidation, basically, against opposition supporters, showing them that ZANU PF supporters continue to enjoy impunity. They can do whatever they want and, should the other party retaliate because the police seen unwilling to do anything, then it is the victim that gets arrested.
Mugabe and Mnangagwa, (who is already campaigning, if you listen to his speeches from this week), intend to bring the full force of the police to bear down on MDC supporters, as has been the case for years.
ZANU PF believes that it owns the rural areas, which is where the majority of our people live. Ity will not allow the MDC or any other opposition to encroach on that territory. So, if anyone wants to see just how sincere ZANU PF is about sharing power, the true litmus test is how it responds to the MDC and other opposition groupings campaigning in the rural areas.
The cities and urban centres, which Mugabe has given up on, are alright, very peaceful with no violence whatsoever. It is the rural areas that are going to prove the undoing of this government, unless, of course, the MDC has also now decided to simply ignore all that and join hands with ZANU PF regardless.
What we should be very afraid of now, however, is the fact that Mugabe's heir-apparent, Mnangagwa, who says he is "ready to take over", is now in charge of the armed forces.
Mark these words: the army will get involved in this before long. And we know from experience that when the army gets involved, they do not exercise restraint.
What they want, the Mnangagwa camp, is to defend their rural electoral strongholds and they are going to bring the army into this to smash the opposition in the rural areas.
As Mnangagwa told a friend two weeks, "I do not mind Morgan being my Prime Minister when I take over." Which means ZANU PF has given up on the urban areas, opposition strongholds and now wants to defend its rural base.
The purpose is to ensure that, at the very least, we get another parliament in which no party has an outright majority, making it necessary to have another coalition government.
As for the presidential election, Mnangagwa points to the fact that, in terms of numbers, ZANU PF won more votes in the parliamentary elections than the MDC, it is in terms of the seats that they were beaten.
So, he reckons, if there is no other party running (read Mavambo or the revived ZAPU), then he could get the ZANU PF vote out and still win the presidency. To do this, he realises, he will have to embark on a massive intimidatory campaign in the rural areas. And it is a safe bet to say that the intimidation, which we will start seeing after the SADC meeting in South Africa in about four months time, will be led by the soldiers, whom Mnangagwa is now in charge of.
So, yes, the destruction of the MDC in the rural areas has started. ZANU PF is only waiting for the review of the GNU by SADC, to take place six months after the formation of the GNU. After that, the gloves will be taken off.
Mark these words.