DEVELOPING | Crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe amid government crackdowns, unrest

A man and a woman hold placards during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road in Zimbabwe.
A man and a woman hold placards during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road in Zimbabwe.
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11 August 06:44

Zimbabwe opposition barred from meeting South African envoys

Harare – Zimbabwe's main opposition coalition on Monday said it had not been allowed to meet with special envoys from South Africa sent in response to a mounting crackdown on dissent.

South Africa appointed two special envoys to go to neighbouring Zimbabwe last week after authorities banned anti-government demonstrations and arrested around 20 protesters for "inciting public violence".

The envoys met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ruling ZANU-PF party officials in the capital Harare on Monday.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance) said it had been excluded from the meeting and unable to speak to the envoys during their visit.

"A delegation remained on standby from 10:00 this morning only to be advised at the end of the day that the special envoys would be returning to South Africa without meeting the MDC-Alliance delegation," coalition spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said in a statement blaming ZANU-PF. 

"It is clear that Mr Mnangagwa is not ready to resolve the national crisis through genuine dialogue."

The banned protests – scheduled for Mnangagwa's two-year election anniversary on 31 July – had been called to denounce Zimbabwe's crumbling economy and alleged state corruption.

'State of crisis'

A prominent journalist and an opposition leader were arrested last month for calling and supporting the protests.

The latest government clampdown sparked outrage on social media with the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter trending worldwide.

But last week, Mnangagwa warned that he would "flush out" the "bad apples who have attempted to divide our people" – raising fears of further reprisal against activists and opposition figures.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed SA's former speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and ex-minister Sydney Mufamadi "to identify possible ways" of assisting Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa has grown increasingly hostile towards dissent since he took over from his despotic predecessor Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by a coup in November 2017.

The southern African country has been crippled by decades of economic mismanagement, and many Zimbabweans complain that the situation has grown worse under Mnangagwa.

The MDC-Alliance said Zimbabwe was "in a state of crisis" characterised by "a crackdown on citizens, abductions, arbitrary arrests of government critics and the political persecution of journalists".

 - AFP

07 August 15:38

SA police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters in solidarity with Zimbabweans at the Zimbabwean Embassy on August 7, 2020 in Pretoria. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu)
SA police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters in solidarity with Zimbabweans at the Zimbabwean Embassy on August 7, 2020 in Pretoria. <em>(PHOTO: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu)</em>
READ | SA police clash with protesters at Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria

07 August 13:05

SA police clash with protesters at Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria 

Pretoria – South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday, an AFP photographer said.

Close to 100 mainly Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa gathered to protest economic hardship and a recent crackdown on dissent and political opposition back home.

Earlier this week, Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to "flush out" critics who he described as "dark forces" and "terrorists" after the authorities thwarted anti-government protests.

On Friday, police were seen pushing and shoving the protesters from the front of the Zimbabwean embassy building, situated in a leafy Pretoria suburb not far from the Union Buildings.

Draped in their county's national flag, protesters waved placards, some reading "Mnangagwa: You are going to The Hague! Murderer! Thief!"

Zimbabwe government dismisses allegations

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he had appointed two special envoys to go to Harare "following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing".

Mnangagwa took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017 and many Zimbabweans complain that the country's situation has only gotten worse since.

The Zimbabwean government has dismissed allegations of rights abuses and a crisis in the country as "false".

"There is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abductions or 'war' on citizens," government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said in a statement.

 - AFP

07 August 11:08

EXPLAINER | What you need to know about what’s happening in Zimbabwe

*A number of Zimbabwean journalists and activists have been arrested as President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched a crackdown of a planned nationwide protest. 

*The growing reports of alleged human rights violations have prompted the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter social movement. 

*Mnangagwa said "dark forces" inside and outside Zimbabwe "have tampered with" the country’s growth for "too long". 


07 August 11:08

Zimbabwe may offer insurance to investors in new stock market

Zimbabwe shut down its stock market and then ejected the continent’s oldest insurer from the bourse. Now it’s hoping to entice investors to a new exchange with a plan to package equity purchases with political-risk cover.

Justin Bgoni, who is setting up the foreign-currency-only market at the iconic Victoria Falls near the Zambian border, knows it’s a tough sell. As chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, he had to deal with trader and investor complaints after the government suspended dealing for five weeks. Trading resumed on the existing exchange on Monday.

“There’s no doubt about it, the closure of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange makes it difficult,” he said in interview from Harare, the capital. “We’re trying to see whether we can get a country-insurance product for the exchange to mitigate the risk.”


07 August 11:08

Ramaphosa appoints special envoys for Zimbabwe crisis 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed former Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and former Safety and Security Minister Sydney Mufamadi as special envoys to Zimbabwe.

With the crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe, their job will be to see how South Africa can assist its neighbouring country.

Mbete and Mufamadi are expected to leave as soon as arrangements have been made.


07 August 11:08

Zimbabwe again denies bail to journalist in protest case; government denies crisis 

Zimbabwe's High Court on Thursday denied bail to a journalist who was arrested last month for supporting anti-government protests, in a case that has sparked an outcry over muzzling of the press.

Hopewell Chin'ono, a freelance journalist and critic of the government, was charged with inciting violence last month, together with opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume.

Security forces deployed last Friday to thwart protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government's record on corruption and a worsening economic crisis.


07 August 11:08


Mpumelelo Mkhabela | For the sake of our economy, South Africa needs to act over Zimbabwe 

The South African government needs to act over the crisis in Zimbabwe to ensure a stronger economy, as both South Africa's and Zimbabwe's economies are intertwined, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened to "flush out" his opponents who mounted peaceful protests against the country’s deteriorating political and economic situation.

His policy of "flushing out" is reminiscent of the apartheid era of torture, lengthy detentions and disappearances of political opponents. It is also a brutal reminder of Marumbatzvina – Robert Mugabe’s operation law-and-order strategy of 2005 that led to suffering of many Zimbabweans in the informal economy.

Mnangagwa has no sense of irony. He has not thought of what would have happened had Mugabe succeeded in "flushing" him out while he was running to exile in South Africa via Mozambique. Some of the people he threatened to "flush out" were on the streets celebrating the end of the Mugabe era on 21 November 2017, paving the way for Mnangagwa.


07 August 11:08

Maimane to Mnangagwa: Respect Zimbabwean citizens’ rights to protest

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has asked Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to release investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and to respect the rights of citizens to protest.

Chin’ono was arrested at his home more than two weeks ago for allegedly inciting public violence. His arrest came after he exposed alleged government corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 coronavirus supplies.

The call comes after Mnangagwa posted on Twitter that his government was working towards rebuilding and improving the lives of Zimbabweans. Maimane, who has been leading appeals for intervention in Zimbabwe, asked well known entertainers to raise awareness about the situation there.


07 August 11:08

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa names his deputy as new health minister 

HARARE – Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday appointed his deputy Constantino Chiwenga as the new health minister, tasking him with reforming a decaying health sector amid a rise in Covid-19 infections and strikes by health workers.

Chiwenga replaces Obaddiah Moyo, who was removed from the post last month after allegations of corruption.

In his new role, Chiwenga will be required to "stabilise, restructure and reform" the national healthcare system, the government said in a statement.


07 August 11:08

Zimbabwean journalists vow not to be silenced as SA political parties plead for government to intervene 

Journalists in Zimbabwe have vowed not to be silenced as President Emerson Mnangagwa decries "dark forces in and outside" of the country.

Zimbabwe has made headlines in recent weeks over claims of increasing violations against human rights and journalists being targeted for trying to report on rampant corruption and what some have deemed state-sponsored brutality.

Calls for reform have grown louder with the arrest of investigative journalist and activist Hopewell Chin'ono last month.


07 August 11:08

Ramaphosa has failed as AU chair in Zimbabwe crisis - Maimane 

Former DA leader and One South Africa founder Mmusi Maimane has written to International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor calling for her to issue a démarche against Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi. 

In a letter he posted on Twitter, Maimane said the purpose of the political initiative should be to demand a full explanation of the human rights crisis facing Zimbabwe and a commitment to end the atrocities. 

This amid growing reports of alleged human rights violations in the country, prompting the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter social movement, which aims to bring the issue to the forefront.

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


07 August 11:08

After arrest, Zimbabwean novelist decries state 'chokehold' 

A prize-winning Zimbabwean novelist and filmmaker arrested at recent protests accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government on Tuesday of holding its people in a repressive "chokehold" as they endured an economic emergency.

Tsitsi Dangarembga, whose latest book This Mournable Body has been nominated for a Booker Prize, was bundled into a police truck while holding placards on Friday and charged with breaking the Covid-19 lockdown to hold an illegal gathering.

Bailed pending trial after a night in jail, the 61-year-old said she could not keep quiet while neglect and mismanagement left Zimbabweans unable to afford a decent meal and healthcare.


07 August 11:08

Bad apples 'will be flushed out' - Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa warns opponents 

Harare – Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday warned he would "flush out" political opponents as rights groups reported dozens of activists had been arrested in a crackdown.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017, 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.

"We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors."


07 August 11:08

'Regime lashes out whenever there's a threat to their hold on power' - Zimbabwean journalist alleges 

The nephew of Zimbabwean journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu is in hospital after he was allegedly abducted, beaten and tortured in a recent wave of alleged gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe. 

His sin? He - Tawanda Muchehiwa - just happened to be at the shop with two more nephews of Mathuthu when a "third force", allegedly known to law enforcement officers, grabbed him and threw him in the back of the truck.

"We have in the abduction of my nephew, men driving in [six] unmarked cars. He is in a shop. They grabbed him and threw him in the truck. He disappears. The two other nephews, however, were put in another car and taken to the police station," Mathuthu told News24 on Tuesday.


07 August 11:08

Harare streets nearly deserted as police crack down on calls for shutdown

Despite calls for a city-wide shutdown, Zimbabwe's capital Harare on Friday saw isolated protests against corruption amid a heavy police presence.

Many businesses in the city remained closed. 

Authorities were present both in the city and roads leading into it. 

On Thursday, the capital had been closed for business after police and soldiers ordered people to go home in an effort to thwart the planned protests.


07 August 11:08

Zimbabwe's security forces clear streets ahead of anti-government protests 

Zimbabwe's security forces on Thursday cleared people off streets of the capital Harare and forced shops to close, a day before planned anti-government protests during the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has struggled to keep his promise to revive the economy, with many Zimbabweans complaining they are worse off than when he replaced the autocratic Robert Mugabe after an army coup in 2017.

Activists have called for street rallies across the country on Friday over corruption in government and economic hardships. Soaring inflation has eroded salaries and pensions.


07 August 11:07

Zimbabwe accuses jailed journalist, politician of plotting to topple government 

Zimbabwe's government on Saturday defended the arrests of an investigative journalist and an opposition leader this week, claiming the pair had been plotting to "overthrow the government" with the backing of the United States and other "foreign power".

Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested on Monday and charged with inciting public violence for their role in organising anti-government protests slated for July 31.

Ngarivhume - head of a small party named Transform Zimbabwe - had called for nationwide protests against alleged state corruption and the country's ailing economy.

Chin'ono, an outspoken government critic, invited the public to join the demonstrations via Facebook and Twitter.

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