JOHANNESBURG -- As the #ZimShutDown2016 gains momentum ahead of a planned mass stayaway in Zimbabwe on Wedensday and Thursday, the African National Congress (ANC) believes there are “sponsored elements seeking to affect regime change.”
Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was speaking at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg where he was reporting back on the ANC’s national working committee meeting.
Mantashe told reporters that the party believes there is a “programme” targeted at the region adding it is concerned “about the recent upsurge of destabilisation activities in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.”
He said long-standing economic problems in Zimbabwe should “never give a license to regime change elements to revive restlessness in Zimbabwe.”
His words come as Zimbabweans are mobilising to bring the country to a standstill over the next two days.
Under the banner #ThisFlag, citizens are protesting against government, including corruption and an import ban.
The leader of the movement Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested on Tuesday morning charges of inciting public violence.
He had been ordered to meet with police in Harare after calling for a public stay away on 13 and 14 July in a bid to get President Robert Mugabe to put an end to corruption and police brutality.
On Tuesday morning, #ThisFlag posted a video of Mawarire before he was arrested saying “Zimbabweans don’t ever hold back from building your country.”
The movement also posted a statement following his arrest calling on all citizens to support the shutdown.
The planned shutdown comes nearly a week after Wednesday 6 July when protesters shutdown parts of the country including Harare.
Police fired warning shots and teargas during the protest action that saw businesses close and crippled public transport.
It was after days of unrest over the government's failure to pay civil servants' salaries, a currency shortage, import restrictions and multiple police road blocks reportedly extorting cash from motorists.
During the protests government blocked Whatsapp service to its citizens as the country’s workers heeded call for the stay away.
A week later, Zimbabweans are now calling on citizens to come together, once again, to ensure a complete shutdown in the country.
But the ANC says the party will not support what it calls “destabilisation of Zimbabwe.”
“We will never support destabilisation of Zimbabwe because we think it is in solidarity with poor. It is not – if you destabilise Zimbabwe you are pushing the poor deeper into abject poverty. Our call is that Zimbabwe be allowed to make efforts to stabilise itself so that the poor can be able to benefit and taken out of abject poverty,” said Mantashe.