Connect with us

NEWS

Fears of fresh unrest as Zimbabwe’s opposition plan protests

Published

on

zimbabwe protests

Zimbabweans are bracing for fresh unrest after the main opposition party unveiled plans for a series of major rallies starting this week and unions called for strike action.

Any demonstrations or industrial action will pose a new test for the ruling Zanu-PF party, which brutally suppressed a round of protests in January, leading to at least 13 deaths and hundreds of rapes and beatings.

Last month senior Zanu-PF officials said the constitution allowed the government to deploy the army to confront protesters and warned that soldiers were trained to kill. “Forewarned is forearmed,” one said, telling demonstrators to stay at home.

The opposition campaign comes as the government imposes austerity measures and attempts to launch a new currency. Millions have been hit by soaring prices of food and fuel, while foreign exchange shortages have led to a lack of vital medicines and other goods.

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, said it was time to throw off “the yoke of bondage” of Zanu-PF, which has ruled for nearly four decades.

“We now need to do the work, roll up our sleeves and we, as a people, be our own liberators; be our own answers; be our own solutions,” he said.
Obert Masaraure, the leader of a union representing 30,000 teachers in impoverished rural areas, said his members were not intimidated.

“We remain in the trenches and will continue to fight … We will be on the streets very soon to push the government to address this issue,” he told the Guardian. “They are celebrating budget surpluses but they are not paying workers, there are no hospital medicines. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Lawyers on Wednesday morning reported the overnight abduction and severe beating of a human rights activist by six unidentified armed men.

The protests, scheduled to start on 16 August, come over a year since Emmerson Mnangagwa won a closely fought election promising investment, transparency and “good days ahead” for the former British colony.
Mnangagwa took power after a military takeover ousted the veteran ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Mugabe, 95, is receiving medical treatment in Singapore.
Zimbabwe is crippled by massive debts incurred during Mugabe’s rule and needs a multibillion-dollar bailout to prevent economic collapse. However, continuing repression and a lack of tangible political reform means there is little chance of international institutions offering major aid packages.

Though most of several hundred people detained during the unrest in January have been released, 21 activists, opposition leaders and trade unionists are facing subversion charges which could lead to lengthy sentences.

Masaraure, who has been arrested five times since December, was charged with subversion in January and rearrested in June when he failed to report to police, spending five days in prison.

“There were 54 people on the floor of one room, with one blanket. The prison [clothes] were full of lice. I got sick with a chest problem,” he said.

He says the harassment has continued. The 35-year-old says he has twice been abducted from his home in the capital, Harare, and assaulted by unidentified men who he believes were state agents, most recently in June after he organised another strike. He said eight men had taken him from his house in an unmarked car to waste ground on the outskirts of the capital where he was stripped naked, beaten with rubber whips and then left by the roadside.

“I am afraid one day I will lose my life. I am afraid for my mother, for my family. The trauma is terrible and the government is reckless, reckless against its own people,” he said.

In August 2018 six people were killed when the army cleared protesters from the centre of Harare at gunpoint. Some victims who survived the shootings are seeking compensation and justice with a class action against security forces.

Lovedale Munesi, a college teacher, needs $7,000 for an operation to remove a bullet lodged near his pelvis, restricting his mobility and causing severe pain. Forced to give up work, he is now dependent on painkillers and on his relatives.

“If I don’t get assistance any time soon, there may be no hope that I will ever work again. Life is very tough now,” the 30-year-old said.

Alison Charles last saw her brother Gavin the night before he was shot dead. The 51-year-old made a living selling fish in the central market area and was hit twice in the back, probably as he and hundreds of other stallholders, shoppers and commuters ran from advancing troops.

“The money is not important. I want justice … I walked with him to school every day. He held my hand. We don’t even know the identity of the soldier who shot him,” Charles said.

Gen Anselem Sanyatwe, the commander of the unit responsible for the killings, was forced to resign by Mnangagwa and has since been appointed an ambassador to Tanzania.

Energy Mutodi, the deputy information minister, said this was “appropriate action”.

“We have an opposition that is very imaginative in trying to create anarchy and to portray the government as violent … As a young democracy, we are learning but we don’t need to be punished for following our learning curve,” Mutodi said.

Sanyatwe has been placed under sanctions by the US.

Mnangagwa appointed a commission headed by a retired South African judge to investigate the killings. Its report, though critical of security forces, described police overwhelmed by a large and violent demonstration by opposition activists, leading to the army’s intervention. This account contrasts with the recollections of many witnesses and the Guardian’s own reporting at the time.

Doug Coltart, a human rights lawyer in Harare, said the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the August 2018 killings raised serious concerns for the future.

“We can see a buildup now with government ministers normalising the idea that it is OK to deploy the army against protests and use live ammunition. By failing to deal with past atrocities, the likelihood of future atrocities is very apparent,” he said. The Guardian

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × two =

BUSINESS

Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

Published

on

Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

Continue Reading

NEWS

Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

Published

on

Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, 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 said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

Continue Reading

HEALTH

Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Dies

Published

on

Perrence-Shiri-Dead

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perence Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Perence Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran,Perrence Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Perence Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.Reuters

Continue Reading

Trending