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Zimbabwe: President Warns Opposition, Rights Activists

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday warned political opponents and rights groups, purportedly promoting destabilisation.

He added that they will be “flushed out”. This comes after dozens of activists had been arrested in a crackdown.

Mnangagwa said his administration was facing many hurdles and attacks including divisive politics of some opposition elements.

“The bad apples who have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out,” he warned in a nationwide address, in a nationwide televised address.

“We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors,” he added.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said, on Tuesday, that it had represented more than 20 people arrested since last week when authorities thwarted anti-government protests that had been scheduled for last Friday.

The protests had been called by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, head of a small party ‘Transform Zimbabwe’. It was held against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy.
Police banned the protests and the government described them as an “insurrection”.

Meanwhile, a number of Zimbabwean journalists and activists have been arrested as President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched a crackdown on planned nationwide protests on July 31.

Among those targeted by the Zimbabwean state is prominent Zimbabwean investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, 49, who is still in police custody after his recent arrest in his home country’s capital of Harare on July 20.

Several activists have also allegedly been abducted or beaten in recent weeks after they either spoke out against alleged corruption, or were critical of the Zanu-PF-led government.

The country is facing one of its worst economic crises in more than a decade, marked by inflation running above 700 per cent, acute shortages of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine. Food shortages have also been reported.

Zimbabwean police is alleged to have arrested over 105, 000 people since March for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Ahead of a planned mass public gathering against corruption on July 31, Chin’ono was arrested after he reported on allegations involving US$60 million in state corruption.

A day before the planned nationwide protests, Amnesty International said police arrested the sister of investigative journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, and refused to release her until the journalist appeared at Bulawayo Central police station.

Mathuthu is the editor of online publication Zimlive and has been charged with planning the protests.

On Friday, July 31, Zimbabwean businesses were closed and streets deserted in the capital Harare early on Friday as security forces increased patrols to stop anti-government protests called by activists over corruption and economic hardship.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Mnangagwa said his economic reform agenda has seen a number of headwinds including the “divisive politics” by opposition leaders, “illegal sanctions”, droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will defeat the attack and stop the bleeding of our economy, we will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detectors,” Mnangagwa said.

“The dark forces both inside and outside our borders have tampered with our growth and prosperity for too long.

“They have thrived on dividing. Let us embrace the call for patriotism, hard work, transparency, accountability, love, unity, and peace. Now it is the time to embrace opportunities before us with optimism and determination to transform our society,” he added.

Mathuthu is of the view that waves of alleged human rights abuses in the country always occur when the Zimbabwean government feels it is losing its power.

“We have a very paranoid government that appears to be out of solutions for the crisis of the economy and the complete lack of public trust in them resolving the issue.

“The government has elected not to resolve issues but to lash out at citizens that it perceives as influencing citizens to rise up against the government.

“Typically, the regime lashes out whenever there is a threat to their hold in power. It happens in waves,” Mnangagwa said.

These incidents have prompted the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign, which aims to shed a light on the current events with the hope of finding a solution to the alleged crisis.

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