Police are hunting more than a dozen opposition politicians and activists, seeking to foil planned anti-government protests on July 31.
Police on Monday said they were appealing for information leading to the arrest of MDC Alliance deputy chairman Job Sikhala, the party’s youth leader Obey Sithole and youth secretary Ostallos Siziba, among others.
Police say they are also looking for former Zanu-PF youth commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu, Tajamuka leader Promise Mkhwananzi and activists Godfrey Kurauone, Denford Ngadziore, Robson Chere and Allan Moyo.
Also targeted is the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Peter Mutasa, Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe leader Obert Masaraure and former Zanu-PF activist Jimmy Kunaka.
The latest crackdown follows last week’s arrest and detention without bail of opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, both accused of using social media to incite Zimbabweans to stage a violent protest.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, whose party has endorsed the planned protests, rejected police claims that they were planning violent protests.
Mahere said: “The MDC Alliance is not a violent party. It is Zanu-PF and the military that’s violent. The military killed innocent, unarmed civilians on August 1, 2018 and January 2019. This was proven beyond doubt before the Motlanthe Commission.
“This regime was called upon to reform. Sadly, it resorts to the same dirty tactics.”
Mahere accused the Zanu-PF government of “panicking” because it is afraid of “people finding their collective voice”.
“They should allow people to exercise their constitutional rights on social media and on the streets. That’s democracy. Peaceful protest online and offline is not a crime,” she said.
Siphosami Malunga, the executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was gripped by the fear of a popular uprising.
“It’s clear that protests called for July 31 will be negatively impacted by many things including the huge spike in Covid-19 infections, the hard clampdown by Zanu-PF including restrictions on movement but one thing is clear: ZanuPF is terrified of people-powered protests, whenever they’ll happen,” Malunga wrote on Twitter.-Zimlive