ED crackdown threats ‘troubling’ and ‘sinister’, says global rights group

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By Staff Reporter

AN Amnesty International top official says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s weekend threats of renewed clampdown on dissenting voices are a “sinister hint” on worse off persecution soon to befall government critics.

Addressing thousands of party supporters at a ‘thank-you’ rally in Mwenezi on Saturday, President Mnangagwa admitted deploying the military to ostensibly to quell wild protests by Zimbabweans over last month’s fuel price hike and the high cost of living.

He went on to say his government was going to deal with those suspected to be behind the national ‘stay-away’ protests.

They include non-governmental organisations, trade union leaders, opposition leaders, doctors and lawyers.

Mnangagwa also accused local NGOs of working with the hostile west to destabilise the country.

Responding to the threats, Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said Mnangagwa’s comments were deeply troubling.

“President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s unfortunate comments are deeply troubling and unwarranted,” she said.

“Coming off the heels of Amnesty International’s expose of a systematic targeting of dissent during the national ‘stay-away’ period, they affirm that his government used security forces, including military personnel, to brutalize people who were protesting. This latest threat is a sinister hint that the situation could become even worse.

“If his government wants to build an inclusive country that is based on respect for human rights, President Mnangagwa should accommodate differing views, whether they please his government or not.”

At least 17 people were killed when government unleashed armed forces to deal with violent protests that rocked Harare, Bulawayo and some parts of the country.

Dozens more were treated for bullet wounds in the hands of the military while some women have reported rape by security forces.

Government has vehemently denied the rape claims saying the allegations were concocted by local NGOs keen to tarnish the image of his government.