By Nompumelelo Sibanda
AS IF the challenges faced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa are not enough, his own Politburo member has placed him in an uncomfortable spot.
The President, who ended his leave yesterday to handle the delicate process of procuring the country’s COVID-19, now faces criticism of double standards after his own top party official violated lockdown restrictions by holding a political rally.
Zanu-PF Politburo member and Bindura North legislator Kenneth Musanhi held a political rally in his constituency last week, despite current lockdown regulations banning public gatherings.
Health Minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, last month decreed a 30-day national lockdown which has further been extended to 15 February in attempts to arrest the surge in fresh COVID-19 cases.
Police have been tough in enforcing the lockdown with many arrests reported on those who were violating the measures, but found wanting when it comes to Zanu-PF officials violating the restrictions.
Observers say the apparent lack of appetite by police to arrest offending Zanu-PF members encouraged people like Musanhi to gather hundreds of party loyalists at rallies even during what was touted as a hard lockdown.
Musanhi’s rally was a Zanu PF District Development Committee (DCC) meeting at Dawmill Farm last week Wednesday, and people barely wore face masks or practised social distancing.
MDC Alliance Treasurer-General David Coltart said Musanhi’s and the subsequent no reaction by police confirmed there was no rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“If this report is true it is yet further evidence of the fact that there is one set of laws for the people of the Zimbabwe and another set for ZANU-PF. The rule of law demands that all people be equal under the law. There is no rule of law in Zimbabwe, just rule by law,” said Coltart, a lawyer.
Another lawyer who declined to be named for professional reasons told the Zimbabwe Voice that unless police arrest Musanhi, the Zanu-PF led Government would have clearly confirmed that top officials live by a different law book from all other citizens.
“This is a simple matter. There’s clear selective application of the law. Had it been MDC-Alliance, we’d be seeing headlines on how the opposition breaks the law and arrests would have been made already. Police and President Mnangagwa’s administration have the chance to prove us wrong by apprehending Kenneth Musanhi and his accomplices. If they don’t, then do we need any other example of rule by law?”
Police and Government spokespersons have yet to issue statements.
It’s not Musanhi alone violating lockdown restrictions, as his rally comes days after Insiza South legislator Spare Sithole, also of Zanu-PF, was accused by villagers of holding a public meeting during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Sithole, whose constituency is in Matabeleland South province, allegedly held the meeting at Zhampale Primary School on January 27 in total disregard of the COVID-19 regulations that outlawed public gatherings.
Village Headman Malindi Siwela confirmed that a meeting was called by the MP on January 27, where 18 other village heads attended.
He said he advised the MP to stop conducting such meetings to avoid spreading the virus, but as village heads, they were too weak to stop the ruling party MP.
In his defence, Sithole claimed that his meeting was given the nod by the police and that it was meant to assist villagers on issues to do with collection of farming inputs, after reports that some beneficiaries did not get theirs. – Zimbabwe Voice 🔺