Zimbabwe continues arrests of critics, says opposition party

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) — Zimbabwe’s military and police are arresting scores of opposition members and activists after authorities thwarted an anti-government protest last week, according to rights groups.

Over 60 people have been arrested so far in the continuing clampdown, said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, which is providing lawyers for the arrested people. Last week internationally known author Tsitsi Dangarembga was arrested for a peaceful protest and spent a night in police cells before being released on bail.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the MDC Alliance, said dozens of its officials have been arrested or have gone into hiding. If state agents do not find the person they want to arrest, they often vandalise their homes and harass their relatives, said opposition spokesman Tendai Biti.

Human rights groups accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of clamping down on dissent under the guise of enforcing anti-COVID-19 lockdown rules.

The Zimbabwean police and government officials have repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying those arrested or being sought by the police were inciting people to revolt against Mnangagwa’s government.

Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin’ono at the Magistrate’s Courts. PHOTO: AP

On Monday, a judge postponed until tomorrow a bail hearing for Hopewell Chin’ono, an investigative journalist who has been in jail for two weeks on accusations of mobilising the foiled protests.

Another investigative journalist, Mdudzuzi Mathuthu, prominent for reporting on alleged government corruption linked to purchases of COVID-19 personal procurement equipment and drugs, is in hiding.

“I am hiding like a rat in my own country for doing nothing more than my job,” Mathuthu told The Associated Press (AP) on Monday.

“Journalism is just a job, but in Zimbabwe it can be a matter of life and death. They have not only come just after me, but my family as well,” he said.