Zimbabwean activists on run as protests crackdown raises spectre of Mugabe era 

Security forces arrest hundreds since ‘stay-at-home’ protest called by unions

Source: Zimbabwean activists on run as protests crackdown raises spectre of Mugabe era | World news | The Guardian

Stars and politicians including Ice Cube and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have spoken out adding to pressure on President Emmerson Mnanagwa’s regime

The campaign comes after arrests, abductions and torture of high-profile political activists.
 The campaign comes after arrests, abductions and torture of high-profile political activists. Photograph: #ZimbabweanLivesMatter

A campaign drawing attention to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe is attracting international celebrities and politicians as pressure mounts on President Emmerson Mnanagwa’s government to act.

The #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign, which originated in South Africa this week, is currently No 1 on the list of trending topics on Twitter and prominent on other social media platforms.

US celebrities including the musicians Ice Cube, Lecrae and Tinashe have joined tens of thousands voicing their concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

US musician Ice Cube has voiced concern over Zimbabwe’s deteriorating human rights situation.
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 Ice Cube is among a group of US celebrities who have voiced concern over Zimbabwe’s deteriorating human rights situation. Photograph: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

The South African hip-hop star AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, became one of the pioneers of the social media campaign after he tweeted a picture of himself draped in the Zimbabwean flag.

Other South African celebrities such as Zakes Bantwini, Dr Tumi, Boity Tulo, the actor Pearl Thusi, politicians Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema are also pushing the hashtag while the Jamaican band Morgan Heritage denounced human rights violations in the country.

The former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also added her support.

“Fadzayi, Tsitsi, Julie, Terrence, Loveridge, and all the others in Zimbabwe’s protest may God give you strength and courage in your pursuit of freedom. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter,” Sirleaf wrote on Twitter.

Zimbabwean activists have been lobbying the former US president Barack Obama, the current president, Donald Trump, and members of the US senate to speak on the issue.

The campaign comes after arrests, abductions and torture of high-profile political activists and the incarceration of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and the Booker prize long-listed author Tsitsi Dangarembga.

South African hip-hop star AKA was one of the first to join the social media campaign.
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 South African hip-hop star AKA was one of the first to join the social media campaign. Photograph: Gallo Images/Getty Images

Chin’ono and the opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume have spent two weeks in remand prison. Their bail ruling has been set for Thursday.

The Zimbabwean Lives Matter hashtag was fashioned after the Black Lives Matter global protests staged since the killing of George Floyd by a US police officer in May.

With several political activists in hiding and on the police wanted list, Zimbabwe’s human rights situation has once again become a subject of global debate.

The South African politician Julius Malema called upon Pretoria to shut down the Zimbabwean embassy as diplomatic pressure mounted on Mnangagwa’s regime.

There are also calls for the African Union to suspend Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga (centre) and a colleague, Julie Barnes, being are arrested during an anti-corruption protest march in Harare, 31 July 2020.
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 Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga (centre) and a colleague, Julie Barnes, being are arrested during an anti-corruption protest march in Harare, 31 July 2020. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images

change.org petition to stop the country’s security agents following unconstitutional orders from government had by yesterday afternoon attracted nearly 40,000 signatures.

The trending hashtag has emboldened Zimbabweans who feared going out to street demonstrations in light of the security clampdowns on peaceful protests.

Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed on the streets of cities across Zimbabwe ahead of planned anti-corruption demonstrations last week.

In reaction to the growing social media revolution, Mnangagwa on Tuesday addressed the nation.

“The bad apples that have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out,” Mnangagwa warned.

Widely ridiculed online, the comment is is largely viewed as a warning of another crackdown.

UN human right experts have condemned the growing torture and enforced disappearances. Zimbabwe’s human rights situation has worsened since six people were shot in Harare in the aftermath of the July 2018 polls and up to 10 people were killed during a crackdown on dissent in January 2019.

Opponents claim Mnangagwa is exploiting a Covid-19 lockdown to stifle opposition, after he imposed an overnight curfew and restricted free movement.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    Chochocho Milker 4 months ago

    It is now clearer that these were the very people who were doing all the dirty tricks of kidnapping and killing people during the Mugabe era. Up to now they do not appreciate the idea that whenever there is an opposition party anywhere in the world, its aim is to bring regime change. Regime change is not synonymous to taking the country back to the colonial masters, it is one of the sign of democracy so that next time it’s you ZANU PF who should campaign to change the regime. Nothing bad about that. Those very corrupt, bootlickers who have come to understand very much that you just sign ZANU PF Pamberi slogan and you continue with your corruption undisturbed are the once who shout the regime change tired slogan too much. To hell with you people have suffered enough and there is need for change even if it means a baboon comes in no problem.