Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana, said that the demonstrations which took place in January and August this year were acts of insurgency and banditry.
Responding to a question by NewsDay senior reporter Blessed Mhlanga if the government regrets the heavy-handed response to protests in Harare on August 16, Mangwana said:
When we say this is a New Dispensation we mean our approach to democracy is modern. But that is not saying we should compromise on national security.
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National security is about the safety of a nation from threats such as internal insurgency, terrorism and economic sabotage, among others.
It is about the stability of the nation. So when people threaten to overthrow an administration outside the provisions of the Constitution, the State will protect the nation.
This is why you see certain countries have had controversial actions like “extraordinary renditions”, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, etc. There are circumstances when national security trumps all else.
The government will always give space to all those who want to express their discontent or dissent within the confines of the law.
But violence like we saw in August 2018 and January 2019 has no place in a democracy. That is not a legitimate political expression.
That is urban insurgency and banditry. If the conveners of the protests work with law and order institutions to ensure the protection of life, limb and property, we will have demonstrations.
But surely they have to tell the police who their stewards are so they can be briefed by the police who are the experts at this.
But they completely refuse to work with the police indicating other motives. There is no price for guessing what their ulterior motive is because they have declared. They are too desperate for power and 2023 is way too far for them.