WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe celebrated 34 years of independence Friday with President Robert Mugabe warning the opposition and non-governmental organizations to refrain from organizing violent political protests against his rule.
At 90 years old, Mr. Mugabe warned, his fist still packs 90 tonnes of force if cornered.
The warning comes against a background of threats of a nationwide protest by the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai’s youth wing which says it is agitated by continuing company closures, increasing unemployment and related ills.
Addressing thousands of people gathered to mark the country’s 34 years of political independence at the National Sports Stadium, President Mugabe said violent protests will not be tolerated.
He urged Zimbabweans to leave in peace saying only peaceful demonstrations sanctioned by the police would be allowed to take place.
MDC-T Youth Assembly spokesman Clifford Hlatshwayo was this week quoted by the press saying party youths would stage demonstrations to demand jobs.
Another MDC-T official Job Sikhala on Sunday urged party supporters to brace for war against President Mugabe’s regime which he accused of running down the country.
Hlatshwayo said the Zanu PF government was failing to provide the 2.2 million jobs it promised in the 2013 elections manifesto.
At the National Sports Stadium, in a wide ranging address, which lasted one and half hours, President Mugabe threatened to expel diplomats who are homosexual or are found promoting homosexuality in Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe, who is a known homophobic, added Zimbabwe will never be a territory for homosexuality, a practice he said must be restricted to Europe.
He said government is committed to eradicating HIV/AIDS, adding all Zimbabweans must assist to ensure zero new infections are recorded in the country.
On the economic front, President Mugabe urged all Zimbabweans to support the government’s economic blueprint the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transform (ZIMASET) saying the program is set to transform the country’s economy.
He said the manufacturing sector is facing serious challenges, noting that the government is taking measures to raise funds to prop up the sector.
Government, he said, is among other measures reorganizing the mining sector to ensure transparency and increased revenue inflows as well improving power generation as it moves to fix the economy.
This year’s independence theme is “Zimbabwe @34: Defending Our Sovereignty and Providing an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Economic Empowerment and Social Transformation”
Friday’s 34th anniversary came just eight months after President Mugabe got a new five-year term following a Zanu PF victory in the disputed 2013 general poll.