Zimbabweans largely ignored calls for nationwide demonstrations by activists and opposition parties on Friday, staying home to avoid getting entangled in violence associated with such adventures and going about their normal business in their neighbourhoods.

The monumental flop of the protests is a serious indictment on the organisers who sought to use the cover of demonstrations to foment chaos and render the country ungovernable.

Their ultimate aim was to cause an unconstitutional overthrow of the Government, but their machinations came unstuck when authorities deployed security agencies across the length and breadth of the country to safeguard lives and property.

It is ironic that the leadership of the demonstrations was nowhere to be seen and was riding on the back of the gullibility of some innocent souls to carry out their nefarious agendas. What cowardice! In the run up to Friday, characters such as MDC Alliance vice chairman Job Sikhala, Tajamuka leader Promise Mkhwananzi, MDC-A vice president Tendai Biti and a host of activists from the “Zanu PF must go’’ brigade were boisterous on social media and other platforms where they were calling on Zimbabweans to rally behind their cause and pour onto the streets in their numbers ostensibly to protest against corruption.

Their financial backers, who include Western embassies domiciled in Zimbabwe, must be utterly disappointed that their huge outlay has been to put to waste as the intended objective of engineering unrest fell flat. Their Trojan Horses did not have the courage of convictions to carry out their mission and stayed put in their bolt holes. Mr Sikhala, who displayed false bravado with a series of comical social media videos shot from some rural outpost, was conspicuous by his absence from the streets of Harare where he had promised to lead the protests.

His colleagues from Tajamuka and other opposition aligned groups were also under the radar with only MDC-A spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and a few white protestors staging a “made for cameras’’ demonstration in the leafy suburbs of Borrowdale and Groombridge, possibly as a face saver in the wake of the monumental flop of the nationwide protests. Police reported four arrests in Chegutu, 11 in Harare and one in Bulawayo for public disorder.

Besides those inconsequential sideshows, the rest of the country was so quiet the Lord himself might have proclaimed, “peace be still”. We salute Zimbabweans for putting their country first and refusing to be used by merchants of violence whose sole aim is to effect regime change using protests as a cover. Despite the challenges facing the country, there is absolutely no need for an uprising to topple a legitimately elected Government when there are legal and constitutional means of electing leaders.

Zimbabweans went to the polls in 2018 where they exercised their constitutional right to choose a Government which has a five-year mandate which expires in 2023. President Mnangagwa still has three years of his term to run and Zimbabweans should give him an opportunity to fulfil his mandate to the nation.

We therefore call on opposition parties, activists and their handlers to let the Government of Zimbabwe plough ahead with its programmes which are meant to improve the lot of the people of this country. We feel any attempt to subvert the will of the people through using protests as a convenient tool to gate-crash into State House will be fiercely resisted by the people of Zimbabwe.

The country is grappling with a plethora of challenges chief among them being Covid-19 and can ill-afford a scenario where innocent people are exposed to the virus through demonstrations and protests. In this regard, we support the Government’s decision to ban the Friday protests in the interests of public safety. While protests are a democratic right, they should be held in a safe environment and the United Nations has backed Governments that outlaw demonstrations as they expose the public to coronavirus. It is grossly irresponsible for opposition parties and self-styled activists to call for protests when Zimbabwe is recording rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.

We are approaching the peak of the pandemic and it should be all hands on deck as far as fighting the coronavirus is concerned. We urge all Zimbabweans to heed President Mnangagwa’s call for unity of purpose and for health workers to put the nation first in the fight to contain Civid-19. We are aware of the challenges facing health workers which include low salaries and lack of personal protective equipment but we urge them to act in the national interest and exhibit a great sense of responsibility.

In his speech at the burial of the late national hero Cde Perrance Shiri, who succumbed to Covid-19, President Mnangagwa emotionally appealed to the conscience of health workers, telling them that in unity and through discipline, we stand a chance of saving our nation from this scourge.

“My Government hears your cries, listens to your concerns. But the time to serve is now. Your grievances, which we acknowledge and continue to address, cannot be enjoyed at the expense of loss of life. When the pandemic spreads and the death toll rises, there are no winners, none at all. Tinopera tese kufa,” he said.

We concur and call on all Zimbabweans to shun demonstrations, violence and promote the spirit of unity, peace and togetherness in the fight against Covid-19 which poses a grave security threat to the nation.