Zimbabwe Opposition Accused of Smuggling Weapons

Opposition MDC Alliance supporters (file photo).

Harare — Tensions between Zimbabwe's rival parties have worsened after the government came short of branding the opposition as a terror sect working with Western and forces aimed at destabilising the country.

A breakaway faction of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and a South African opposition party are also accused of working with both the Movement of Democratic Change ((MDC) Alliance and Western embassies to effect regime change.

Among the biggest accusations is that they are smuggling weapons into the country in order to set up so-called Democratic Resistance Committees (DRC).

The government believes the destabilisation is also through illegal protests, violence, insurgency, blocking of country's borders with neighbouring countries, preaching lawlessness and staging fake abductions of activists.

Owen Ncube, the Zimbabwe State Security Minister, made the allegations after the failed border closure by MDC-A and South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Critics accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of being repressive.

"No country in the world and no sane people would tolerate elements who openly mobilise to close their country's borders particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening lives and the economy," Ncube said.

Ncube was addressing a press conference in the capital Harare.

"In any country, such people (MDC-A) would be treated as traitors. At international law, a blockade is tantamount to a declaration of war," he said.

There were hints in his speech that the government would resort to another crackdown by armed forces.

Government has in recent months been accused of suing brutal force against critics.

"Government and state security agents, in particular, have a duty to take appropriate measures to protect the law and integrity of commerce across our borders," Ncube said.

Allegations of weapons smuggling are unprecedented.

"Some rogue elements among us are conniving with some hostile Western governments to smuggle guns and set up so-called Democratic Resistance Committees, that are for all intents and purposes violent militia groups," Ncube said.

"Zimbabwe's security and stability is currently under siege from a number of threats being fomented by internal and external actors," Ncube said.

He alleged the opposition was still disgruntled that the 2018 elections were not won by MDC-A of Nelson Chamisa.

The outcome was contested in court but ZANU-PF's victory was endorsed.

"We would like to assure citizens that we are watching the environment very closely and that we shall fulfil our mandate of ensuring peace, stability and development in Zimbabwe" Ncube assured.

Zimbabwe has suffered instability after the MDC emerged in 1999 as the biggest threat to ZANU-PF's stranglehold on power since 1980.

ZANU-PF accuses the MDC as a party sponsored by foreign forces including former colonial master, Britain. Elections contested by the two parties have been closely fought and a source of violence.

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