By Everson Mushava
Defence deputy minister and Zanu PF national commissar Victor Matemadanda has claimed that the planned July 31 protests against government were being funded by the West with the intention of spreading the deadly COVID-19 in the country.
Civic groups and opposition political parties have pegged the day to protest against corruption and the deteriorating economic situation in the country under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party has admitted that the protests threatened its hegemony, and vowed to unleash the security forces to thwart any dissent after awarding salary increments to army and police personnel.
The Zanu PF leader yesterday said he would intensify COVID-19 lockdown in Harare and Bulawayo because of growing COVID-19 infections, but critics say the lockdown would enable the State to clamp down on the planned protests.
On Wednesday, Matemadanda told State media that the protests were a Western project, being bankrolled to the tune of US$300 000 by the hostile governments so that they have an opportunity to use COVID-19 laced canisters to spread the virus in the country.
“We know that they (opposition) have been given more than US$300 000 to sustain the planned demonstration and obviously they are being encouraged to break the law against COVID-19 regulations,” he said.
“Why this is being done, it is not because people are concerned about the ordinary people, but they are trying to bring a narrative first to see how the government is going to react to the demonstrators and obviously cry about the disregard of human rights.”
Matemadanda, who is also secretary-general for war veterans, said the West was not happy that the country had recorded few COVID-19-related deaths.
“Zimbabweans should know that those who are funding these demonstrations are worried about why COVID-19 has not killed people in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“And the information that we have got is that they are trying to get firing of tear gas and we are reliably informed that they also have some canisters containing COVID-19 active material they hope to spread to the Zimbabweans. We are reliably informed that they have got a mechanism of spreading coronavirus which has been brought in by those funding the protests.”
He added: “So, this is what they are trying to do, to spread coronavirus and then blame the government for not being proactive.” News Day