ZANU PF acting spokesman Patrick Chinamasa accused Nichols of bankrolling this week’s planned anti-government protests that are set for Harare and other major cities across the country.
The protests, set for July 31, have been called by opposition parties and some political activists who accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of corruption and economic mismanagement.
Describing Nichols as a thug, Chinamasa accused the US envoy of engaging in subversive activities meant to undermine Mnangagwa’s government.
"If he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders," Chinamasa warned.
The threat is expected to increase tension between Harare and Washington, which have had lukewarm ties since the Zimbabwean authorities embarked on a land redistribution programme in 2000 that saw over 4,500 white farmers being dispossessed of their farmland.
Chinamasa’s comments came a few days after Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa also accused the US embassy of trying to influence the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was arrested last week for allegedly inciting public violence.
Chin’ono, who was arrested on July 22 together with opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, is accused of allegedly using social media to incite people to topple Mnangagwa’s government.
The journalist has been leading a social media campaign to expose high-level corruption involving Mnangagwa’s cronies.
In one such exposes, Chin’ono raised the red flag following a multi-million-dollar corruption scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies that cost former health minister Obadiah Moyo his job earlier this month.
The scandal has sucked in Mnangagwa who is seen in several pictures while supping and dining with officials of the shadowy company awarded the US$60 million contract to supply COVID-19 medical supplies to the government.
Both Chin’ono and Ngarivhume are denying the charges and are expected to appear in court again on August 7.