The United States Embassy in Harare and leading human rights groups are urging the Zimbabwean government to show restraint in the face of a major opposition demonstration planned for Friday in the capital.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has called for a string of protests starting Friday to protest what they say is a broken economy that has led to empty gas stations, empty wallets, empty shelves, and empty stomachs. One MDC activist was reportedly beaten and left for dead this week as the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has braced for Friday’s protests.
“The government of Zimbabwe bears the responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens under its constitution,” said the U.S. Embassy statement. “We welcome the Zimbabwean government’s commitment to investigate these crimes and to bring those responsible to justice.”
Amnesty International called this week’s events against MDC and other rights groups an “escalating crackdown.”
“Instead of listening to protestors’ concerns about the economy, the authorities have used torture and abduction to crush dissent and instill fear,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for southern Africa, in a statement.
“Rather than targeting dissent the Zimbabwean authorities should focus on improving the country’s economy and the lives of the population,” she said. “Millions of people live in poverty and are routinely denied their human rights, and suspected perpetrators of human rights violations continue to enjoy almost absolute impunity.”