Government will revoke visas and deport foreigners who breach their conditions of stay in Zimbabwe by engaging in subversive activities, a senior official has said. Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana issued the warning as it emerged that some foreign nationals were working with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to undermine the constitutional order.
Information to hand indicates that Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe is coordinating planned anti-Government activities to paralyse the country and is seeking financial support from the United States of America and Germany.
The Herald first reported on the plot a fortnight ago, and those involved believe that the time is "now ripe". The timing is predicated on perceived readiness by some quarters to take on the Government.
In a statement, Mr Mangwana warned against activities that disturb the peace in the country.
"Over the past few weeks, Government has closely monitored activities of a coalition of non-governmental organisations in the country, especially in and around Harare. It has become obvious that there is a deliberate plan to undermine and challenge the prevailing constitutional order born out of the 2018 July 30 harmonised elections which were democratic, free and fair, and which were subsequently upheld by the highest court of the land. This brazenly unconstitutional plan which sought financial support from some regime-change organisations based in America and Germany, among other countries, represents a serious threat to our consolidating democracy, to the rule of law in our country, and to the authority of Government and the State. Government is under no illusion as to the intentions and import of this plan, which is being partly orchestrated through social media," he said.
Mr Mangwana said while the Constitution grants freedom of assembly and association, it does not sanction subversion of the Constitution.
"While Sections 58 and 59 of our Constitution grant freedom of assembly and association, and the right to demonstrate and petition, these rights do not sanction the subversion of the constitutional order and the rule of law. Furthermore, they do not condone any activities designed and calculated to impede or stop broad socio-economic activity in the country, including challenging the right and entitlement of the rest of the citizenry to a normal, lawful, safe and secure, and productive daily life," he said.
Mr Mangagwa said Government would not sit down and watch.
"Should that happen, the State, through the Government of the day, is mandated to step in with appropriate firmness, and on the strength of a mix of lawful instruments at its disposal, to protect and restore law and order in the Republic for the benefit of the ordinary citizen. This is more so when intelligence available to Government clearly points to a foreign hand bent on aiding and abetting such chaos.
"Government is aware of the involvement of non-citizens in the orchestration of this futile exercise. Government will not hesitate to take action against such persons by withdrawing their visas, deporting them and declaring them persona non grata," he said.
"Government thus wishes to make it known to all those who have been conspiring to subvert peace, law and order in the country that it will respond appropriately. Both these unlawful meetings and treasonable liaisons with foreign organisations must stop forthwith."
He said NGOs bent on causing chaos would be deregistered.
"In respect of political 'NGOs' currently grouped as the so-called Zimbabwe Civil Society Convergence, and which have been meeting at the Crisis in Zimbabwe offices and elsewhere, Government sternly warns against overplaying their hand. They have never registered to operate as a disguised political force in the country, or to be a substitute for the popular will of the Zimbabwean people by wielding the power to revise outcomes of the harmonised elections of July 30, let alone by abridging the tenure of that democratic outcome.
Zimbabwe is an open system allowing for direct political competition in accordance with set rules and schedules. What Government will not allow or countenance is the pursuit of politics disguised as non-governmental work, or politics using NGOs as some Trojan horse. Equally, Government will not allow or tolerate the abuse the social media and social media platforms in the name of, or access to, information," added Mr Mangwana.
He said Government fully recognises the role and place of the opposition in the body politic.
"However, Government will not accept a situation where opposition parties disguise themselves as NGOs or as civic groups both to secure condonation for unlawful acts such as sponsoring civil unrest, and to avoid abiding by and submitting to given electoral outcomes which did not favour them. Rules of democracy and elections bid all actors to submit to ballot outcomes and, more importantly, to strictly follow and abide by the national electorate calendar," said Mr Mangwana.
The warning by Government comes amid indications the so-called Zimbabwe Civil Society Convergence met at Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition's offices at No. 10 Longden Road, Belvedere, Harare.
The agenda was to call for a national shutdown from January 23-26.
They are reportedly mobilising opposition pressure groups, namely #Tajamuka, #Ocupy Africa Unity Square, #This flag, ZCTU, General Consensus, Citizen Manifesto and Concerned Citizen Agenda. These are supposed to play a leading role in strategising on the intended shutdown.
They allege that Government has failed its people and must cede power to other citizens.
"It was gathered that no notification of the demonstrations would be done to the regulating authority, and any effort by the police to stop the shutdown protests would be met with resistance. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator Rashid Mahiya is reported to have highlighted that the time is now ripe for national shutdown to take place. He is alleging that the country is slowly shutting down itself, hence all progressive Zimbabweans should join hands to shut down the country and open up on a fresh page," said a source.
The "national shutdown" dates concide with the dates set by Zimbabwean Teachers Association and other teachers' associations to stage protests.