By Fungi Kwaramba
Zimbabweans based in the United States are planning to roll out protests against President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, at the on-going annual United Nations (UN) general assembly — but they face massive resistance from a pro-Mugabe group — the December 12 Movement which has planned its own demos showing solidarity with the Zanu PF leader.
The exiled Zimbabweans are also planning to disrupt Grace’s shopping for the duration of her stay in New York.
Mugabe, who and his family are on a list of targeted sanctions, left Harare on Saturday to attend the UN general assembly in New York, an annual trip where he is given a waiver to attend the summit.
The meeting of the world’s top leaders and diplomats, that began on Tuesday, brought street closures, thousands of police officers and hundreds of protesters to midtown Manhattan, an area already plagued with gridlock on an average weekday.
A handful of anti-Mugabe protests in New York have already staged protests.
A march on Monday by anti-Mugabe protesters started from Grand Central Terminal, while the left-wing activist group December 12 Movement also organised a pro-Mugabe march to the UN headquarters.
Freeman Chari, one of the organisers of the anti-Mugabe demonstrations, said they have received permission to protest against the nonagenarian at the precincts of the UN general assembly when Mugabe addresses the world.
“The purpose of our protest was not to remove Mugabe. We believe in constant strategic nuisance.
“Dictators like Mugabe have a big ego, and it is strategic to continuously attack it in ways that force them to wonder what is next. America is transparent, we know where he is staying and we are able to watch them and their movements,” said Chari.
The anti-Mugabe protestors also threatened to stop Grace going on her shopping trips in the face of catastrophic poverty blighting the people of Zimbabwe back home.
“We know where they love to shop and we wait for them at the hotel and at the shops. Grace would have to resort to sending aides to shop for her,” Chari said, adding they will be on hand on Wednesday, when Mugabe will address the body of world leaders.
“We have a noise permit, to make as much noise on Wednesday when he addresses the UN. We have acquired 500 Decibel Bullhorns that we will use,” said Chari.
Meanwhile, the December 12 Movement will also gather outside the UN on Wednesday to call out support for Mugabe.
The December 12 Movement, led by Coltrane Chimurenga, has already held solidarity marches with Mugabe.
While Chimurenga and Sister Viola were unreachable for comment yesterday, Chari said on Saturday they were holding their protest peacefully just across the UN Headquarters and the December 12 Movement team converged a few blocks.
“They decided to march towards us with the intention of overwhelming us and create sweet headlines for Mugabe.
“Hats off to Coltrane, they were outnumbering us, but we are seasoned protesters, bred and hardened in the African grind.
“We let them come, then we unleashed our 320 Decibel Bullhorns on them. They were shocked and completely overwhelmed. The difference between those demonstrating for Utopian ideas and those with the scars is that those with scars use their hearts more than their mouths. It was a game of conviction more than numbers,” Chari said. Daily News