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Opinion / Columnist

Why the blockages on people's rights?

09 Aug 2020 at 10:18hrs | Views
The deployment of the army to clamp down on protests threatens to create a subject political culture where timid citizens watch the state conversion into a complete authoritarian regime.

Since the lockdown began, there has been a worrying trend of state security brutality in communities who are caught in streets struggling to make ends meet.

July 31, 2020 prompted a reiteration of the harrowing experience which has become the usual output of any army deployment in communities of Zimbabwe.

The government of Zimbabwe under the rule of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has resorted to use of violence, abductions, arrest and torture against citizens as a way to create a climate of fear.

The Mnangagwa administration promised citizens a new dispensation the Zimbabwe which citizens want, however, the regime has been characterised by corruption and more cases of human rights violations as compared to the Mugabe regime.

Citizens have witnessed the abduction of opposition leaders, activists and journalists.

These leaders and activists have been subject to torture and arrest due to raising their voices against state failure, constitutional amendments, and corruption towards and during the premeditated July 31 protests.

Interview findings from various parts of Zimbabwe have shown an increase in incidents of abductions, arrests, harassment and torture by state agents targeting citizens, with the most affected areas being Harare and Bulawayo.

On July 10, 2020, police arrested 31-year-old Milton Murairwa, a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) member.

He was charged with undermining authority of or insulting Mnangagwa as defined in section 33(2) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after he posted a message which reads "ED ne team yake Must GO" on a WhatsApp group for police members stationed at Mbare Police Camp.

On July 20, 2020, journalist Hopewell Chin'ono and opposition Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) party leader Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested for allegedly inciting public violence using social media by mobilising people to revolt against Mnangagwa's administration during planned anti-government protests which were scheduled for July 31.

Chin'ono was arrested by some armed ZRP members at his residence in Chisipite suburb in Harare, who raided and forcibly gained entry into his home.

ZRP members charged Chin'ono with intent to promote public violence and breaches of harmony as defined in section 187(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 37(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prior to the July 31 protests, the police arrested several opposition politicians, activists and journalists.

Citizens are now living in fear of dying because of Covid-19, being killed by soldiers or dying of hunger.

Interviewees in Harare and Bulawayo showed that soldiers were chasing citizens in suburbs even before the 6pm curfew.

In Harare, the most affected areas are Gazaland and Machipisa in Highfield, Chitungwiza and Mufakose while in Bulawayo, Sekusile area in Nkulumane and Cowdry Park were most affected.

This is evidence of brutality by state agents against citizens. As a result, the regime has been using them as a contrivance to silence citizens.

On July 31, citizens witnessed the police and military closing all roads into the central business districts (CBD).

Citizens were being beaten and forced to vacate CBDs, some were arrested.

State agents went on to abduct and arrest several journalists and activists accusing them of planning to incite violence.

Journalists Blessed Mhlanga and Ruvimbo Nyikadzino were arrested at a police roadblock on their way into the CBD for a press conference which had been called by Information and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

The two journalists were taken to Mabvuku Police Station where they were briefly detained until the Media Institute for Southern Africa in Zimbabwe came to their rescue and offered legal assistance.

The police, via the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) news, released a list of MDC youth leaders calling them for interviews.

A few days later, Zanu-PF acting party spokesman Patrick Chinamasa publicly announced during a media briefing that Zanu-PF would not be silent regarding the July 31 protests.

These threats by the Zanu-PF acting spokesman were followed by a series of attacks and abductions on MDC Alliance youth leaders.

The government responded by imposing a curfew, which saw the police and soldiers chasing citizens from the streets who are trying to feed their families in this dying economy.

Mathuthu's sister, Nomalanga, and his cousins were abducted by state agents on the eve of July 31.

MDC leaders were also arrested by state agents in most parts of the country.

Internationally recognised author Tsitsi Dangarembwa was also arrested after she was seen peacefully demonstrating against corruption.

The international community joined on Twitter and Facebook in support of protesters, the diaspora went to the extent of holding placards at Zimbabwean embassies yearning for a better Zimbabwe.

July 31 has shown how much Zimbabweans hunger for a corruption and violence-free Zimbabwe.

Citizens expect their questions to be addressed not by firing of guns. The deployment of the military threatens a decades old Zimbabwean dream of transitioning into a democratic society.


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All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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