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Zimbabwe opposition fears growing post-election crackdown



mdc party

Zimbabwe authorities are abducting opposition activists and launching court cases to suppress protests, the opposition MDC party said on Monday, despite the president’s boast of introducing new freedoms to criticise his government.

Since the knife-edge election result was declared early on Friday, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say they have been the target of a brutal crackdown that exposes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s claims to respect rights and halt repression.

Mnangagwa has blamed the MDC party for fomenting post-vote unrest, but he has also vowed to usher in a more open Zimbabwe than under Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule that ended last year.

Last week, six people died after troops in the capital Harare opened fire at protests against alleged election fraud, sparking an international outcry and raising grim memories of the Mugabe era.

“It’s getting dicier by the day, we know the security forces are looking for 4 000 individuals,” opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told AFP, citing state media reports.

“They are intimidating people. At their houses, they’re going with accusations of serious crimes and they’re taking people without telling anyone – and these people can’t be found in police stations.

“They’re trying to incapacitate the opposition so that there will be no resistance or civil action against the fake election results.”
‘Taken by soldiers’

Sibanda said he had information about one woman who was targeted by security forces after saying on Facebook that Mnangagwa stole the vote result.

“We have recovered another person who came home this morning. She was taken by soldiers. She managed to escape while they were dealing with one other person captured with her,” said Sibanda, adding 50 people may be missing.

The MDC party, which says it won the election and plans a legal challenge, has also alleged that elderly people related to activists have been attacked and that security forces have been acting with impunity with some victims reportedly beaten up.

On Monday, 27 members of the MDC opposition appeared in court on violence charges after the protests against alleged cheating by Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party in the election.

Police armed with assault rifles were on duty in the court precinct, with a police truck stationed outside.

Prosecutors opposed bail, saying the accused – 19 men and eight women – were “linked” to the deaths of the six people when the army opened fire at the opposition demonstration.

“There’s more than a likelihood that they will re-offend, they will intimidate witnesses, they will interfere with evidence and they will not attend the trial,” said prosecutor Michael Reza.

“These are people with unfinished business outside.”

Five of the suspects were polling agents who had been visiting MDC party headquarters in Harare to hand in polling returns and collect travel expenses, defence lawyers said.

The bail hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

Good cop, bad cop?

The MDC party headquarters has been regularly encircled by military armoured personnel carriers, water cannon trucks and anti-riot police vehicles since the election but appeared calm on Monday.

Amnesty International said last week more than 60 people had been “arbitrarily arrested” in a post-election clampdown on the opposition.

“This is a strategy of good-cop, bad-cop where Mnangagwa proclaims conciliation and mindfulness of the law, while the security apparatus is attacking the opposition,” Charles Laurie, of the Verisk Maplecroft risk consultancy, told AFP.

“Mnangagwa’s greatest priority is to cement his victory, so they are working to disrupt the MDC by interfering with their links to the press, preventing demonstrations and ensuring dissents are suppressed.

“They will have to allow the MDC’s legal challenge to proceed, but they’ll work behind the scenes to blunt it.”

Riot police last week broke up an MDC party press conference with foreign media on the lawns of an upmarket hotel before it was eventually allowed to proceed as the government scrambled to repair its dented image.

Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally who is desperate to attract foreign investment, quickly reacted on Twitter, saying he “protected freedom of speech, of assembly and the right to criticise the government”.

“This is an indispensable part of the new Zimbabwe,” he added.

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Kembo Mohadi resigns amid sex scandal



Kembo Mohadi sex scandal

Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.

Kembo Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.

In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President”.

I have been going through a soul-searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problem outside the governance chair,” he said in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Kembo Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.

Mohadi, 70, denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.

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Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers



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

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




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

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