MDC Alliance leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa, has to “disengage from abusive politics” of taking improper pot-shots at the Head of State, President Mnangagwa, and instead join efforts to fight coronavirus, a Government official has warned.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said in a statement yesterday, serially preaching hate speech, as Mr Chamisa was doing by calling President Mnangagwa “a hyena” in the press, was “a seed of national instability and civil disturbances”.
“Government has noted with concern statements published in a local daily newspaper where opposition leader Mr Nelson Chamisa labelled the Head of State and Government, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a ‘hyena’. The language used by the opposition leader qualifies to be called ‘hate speech’ and has no place in civilised politics,” said Mr Mangwana.
Since assuming power in 2017, he added, the President “has made it part of his politics to preach and practise political tolerance” and accommodated even those who disagree with him.
The President’s outstretched arms to political opponents have instead been “rewarded” by derogatory words and hate speech constantly used to demean his person and Office, he said.
“We find the calling of the President inflammatory names only inciteful and a deviation from acceptable political commentary or even political banter.”
He said free speech was limited insofar as it cannot be allowed to demean the Office of the Presidency, as Chamisa’s splinter group was trying to do.
Mr Mangwana said: “Free speech is meant to benefit society and we struggle to see how an effort to diminish the dignity of a seating President can be of benefit to society.”
It is believed that the new Government’s thrust to open up has been abused by critics who construe it as weakness.
“The President’s detractors are oblivious of the fact that the freedom of expression they are abusing is a product of the President’s policy of opening up of the political space. In the spirit of democracy, the New Dispensation headed by the President has ensured that people are free to express themselves without persecution.”
Unwarranted and contrived attacks had the potential to affect the country’s brand, soil its image and collaterally impact ordinary Zimbabweans. Some countries around the world have invoked strong-armed policies to protect the well-being and health of their populations by arbitrarily ensuring compliance to health protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation.
He added that Mr Chamisa should, “embrace the progressive politics of ideas that promote national cohesion and growth”.
Legal and constitutional avenues to seek power through the electoral process were the only sure way of gaining political power, he said.
“As the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, let us all spread love by promoting hygienic practices that will save lives of our families and communities. This is not the time for cheap politicking and diversionary political manoeuvres, but a time to save lives.”