Crackdown targets the opposition
ZIMBABWE’S military and police are arresting scores of opposition members and activists after authorities thwarted an anti-government protest last week, according to rights groups.
More than 60 people have been arrested so far in the continuing clampdown, said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which is providing lawyers for the arrested people.
Last week internationally known author Tsitsi Dangarembga was arrested for a peaceful protest and spent a night in police cells before being released on bail.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the MDC Alliance, says dozens of its officials have been arrested or have gone into hiding.
If state agents did not find the person they wanted to arrest, they often vandalised their homes and harassed their relatives, said opposition spokesperson Tendai Biti.
Human rights groups accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of clamping down on dissent under the guise of enforcing anti-Covid-19 lockdown rules.
The Zimbabwean police and government officials have repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying those arrested or being sought by the police were inciting people to revolt against Mnangagwa’s government.
Yesterday, a judge postponed until Thursday a bail hearing for Hopewell Chin’ono, an investigative journalist who has been in jail for two weeks on accusations of mobilising the foiled protests.
Another investigative journalist, Mduduzi Mathuthu, prominent for reporting on alleged government corruption linked to purchases of Covid19 personal protective equipment and drugs, is in hiding.
“I am hiding like a rat in my own country for doing nothing more than my job,” Mathuthu said yesterday. “They have not only come after me, but my family as well,” he said.
His nephew, Tawanda Muchehiwa, who family members say was abducted by state security agents last week, was dropped near his home on Saturday, hours after a judge ordered the police to “produce him.”
Muchehiwa is receiving medical treatment after allegedly having been tortured.