Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has come under fire over its perceived-harsh crackdown on demonstrators last month against alleged state corruption and economic hardship last month – which saw 20 citizens arrested and charged with inciting public violence arrested for partaking in the banned protests – to be later released on bail.
Abel Chikomo, Spokesperson Catholic Lawyers Guild, addressed the public, “The Pastoral letter denounced the current human rights situation in Zimbabwe and noted that the call for demonstrations is the expression of growing frustration and aggravation caused by the conditions that the majority of Zimbabweans find themselves in.”
On Friday, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) publicly denounced in a letter the anti-government thwarting detentions, assaults and intimidation techniques and also weighed in on Zimbabwe’s long-standing social and economic crisis, one which the government vehemently denies. The Law Society and some international organisations echoed the sentiment viewing it as a matter of human rights.
Historical Tribalistic Fragility
Monica Mutsvangwa, the Minister of Information Minister, proclaimed the letter had been issued under ZCBC president Archbishop Robert Ndlovu’s evil-minded leadership with the intention of sparking tribal discord as Ndlovu hails from Zimbabwe’s Ndebele minority ethnic group. She accused him of “fanning the psychosis of tribal victimisation” and sowing “sins of collective guilt” among the Shona majority.
Allegations on a sensitive subject matter in the wake of a seemingly precarious political climate within a nation that has already known tribalistic genocide where some 20,000 people were killed during the 1980s under the regime of the late ex-president, Robert Mugabe, who led a military-style crackdown on alleged militants known as Gukurahundi. The targets were mainly Ndebele, perceived as backing the opposition, while Mugabe himself was Shona.
Harare insists that demonstrations that were thwarted on 31 July were totally divorced from human rights but an attempt by forces who are bent on forcing a regime change unconstitutionally and that in any case any public gathering would not be tolerated as this violates Covid19 social distancing rules.
By Eric Knight