President Emmerson Mnangagwa ZANU PF’s Central Committee in Harare on Thursday that he was “upholding constitutionalism.”
His remarks came on a day 40 war veterans were taken to court, later than the constitutional limit of 48-hours, for protesting against the government demanding a review of their pensions. Mnangagwa said:
Upholding constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection and preservation of our rich cultural heritage is sacrosanct.
This is the true meaning of independence, freedom and democracy.
The arrest of the war veterans came just a day after ZANU PF organised nationwide protests against sanctions imposed by western countries on corrupt Zimbabwean elites.
The war veterans’ charge sheet says “the country is still under national lockdown level 2 and all demonstrations are suspended.”
MDC Alliance co-Vice President deputy Tendai Biti criticised Mnangagwa over the arrest of war veterans describing it as an abuse of human rights. He said:
Emmerson Mnangagwa has lost it completely and it’s now a question of when, not if. This abuse of human rights, closure of space, and abuse of veterans is a new low even by the low, non-existent standards of this vapid, vacuous regime.
Lawyers representing dozens of veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war who protested against paltry pensions said they had been detained for more than 48 hours and had not been informed of the charges when they were rounded up at around 10 AM on Tuesday.
Their legal team from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights asked magistrate Barbra Mateko to throw out the charges of participating in an illegal demonstration with intent to promote public violence, citing a violation of their rights.
Mateko said she would make a ruling on Friday.
Western countries which imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium following the chaotic land reform programme say the sanctions will only be removed when Zimbabwe starts to respect the rule of law.