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South Africa expected to state its position on deteriorating Zim rights situation

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By Staff Reporter/Agencies

THE South African government is soon expected to issue a statement regarding its position on the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

According to South African media Tuesday, the Zimbabwean situation is being discussed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).

Department spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele told News24 on Tuesday morning that consultations were still under way. A statement is expected to be released soon.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has come under pressure from opposition political parties, prominent personalities and celebrities in his country to take a position on the Zimbabwean situation.

This comes 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.

Among those targeted was prominent Zimbabwean investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono (49), who is still in police custody after his recent arrest in his home country’s capital of Harare on 20 July. He is accused of inciting Zimbabweans to join a planned anti-government protest during the coronavirus outbreak, News24 previously reported.

The African Editors’ Forum (TAEF) and the Southern African Editors’ Forum (SAEF) have expressed concern about “the continued harassment and arrest of journalists in Zimbabwe by the government”.

Both bodies also called on the immediate release of Chin’ono and reminded the Zimbabwean government that journalism was not a crime.

“The Zimbabwean government should allow journalists to do their work freely without any hindrance and we demand a guarantee for the safety of all media personnel in the country,” TAEF chairperson Jovial Rantao and SAEF chairperson Willie Mponda said in a statement on Monday.

“This should not be happening in a democracy which Zimbabwe has declared to Africa and the rest of the world that it is,” the duo added.

In addition, Zimbabwean renowned author Tsitsi Dangarembga (61) was recently arrested during anti-government protests and was released on bail on Saturday.

The writer was charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations after staging a two-women demonstration in Harare.

Among prominent South African figures that have voiced disapproval against the Zimbabwe government’s transgressions are opposition EFF leader Julius Malema and former Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela.

Popular musician AKA has also called for African solidarity towards Zimbabweans people.

However, addressing the nation from State House Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa adamantly told his government’s “detractors” off saying his administration will not be swayed from its path of restoring democracy and economic prosperity by both local and foreign “detractors”.