BY Richard Muponde

THE opposition MDC has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of setting up a “vicious” crack team comprising members of the Police Support Unit, army and the Central Intelligence Organisation to suppress demonstrations.

The team is allegedly being trained at a local army barracks.

It is alleged to be behind the vicious attack on MDC supporters, passers-by and bystanders on Wednesday when MDC president Nelson Chamisa was about to give his Hope of the Nation Address.

Since taking over from the late former President Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 coup, Mnangagwa’s administration has been brutally quelling demonstrations by the opposition, civic groups and civil servants.

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Six civilians were killed by soldiers on August 1 last year after they took to the streets protesting over the delay by the Zimbabwe Election Commission in announcing presidential results.

In January this year, civil society organisations said 17 civilians lost their lives following protests against the fuel price hikes by Mnangagwa and the ensuing brutal crackdown by the State security apparatus.

Wednesday’s bashing of civilians received condemnation from Chamisa and the Unites States, among others.

MDC chairperson Tabitha Khumalo yesterday said they had been made aware by their party’s intelligence that Mnangagwa had set up a crack team to deal with opposition demonstrations and gatherings.

She said the crackdown all but confirmed her party’s fear that Zimbabwe was now under military rule.

“It only confirms what we have been saying all along that we are now being ruled by the military.
All government units have been militarised and they are escalating their brutality, which confirms that they stole the election because why brutalise the people you claim voted for you?” Khumalo asked rhetorically.

However, Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana dismissed the claims as “nonsense”.

“There’s no truth in this at all. Absolute nonsense,” he said.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also refuted the allegations.

“We are not aware of the allegations being made,” he said.

Chamisa has warned Mnangagwa against his continued use of force on unarmed civilians, saying the Zanu PF leader was behaving like a dictator and had not learnt from history how tyrants end.

He said Mnangagwa was slowly sliding into the league of other dictators in the world by closing down civilian politics and faces sad ending to his two-year rule.

The US government, through its assistant secretary for the department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said there was growing concern over the Mnangagwa administration’s continued disregard of the people’s freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution.