Crack­down tar­gets the op­po­si­tion

Cape Argus - - WORLD -

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.

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