US Presses Mnangagwa Over January 2019 Civilian Killings

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By Alois Vinga

THE United States continues to pile pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to bring closure to the 2019 civilian killings by the Zimbabwean military, expressing concerns that two years have since passed by without any arrests.

Security forces used excessive lethal force to crush nationwide protests in mid-January 2019.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sudden announcement of a fuel price increase of 150 percent resulted in three days of demonstrations throughout Zimbabwe in which security forces fired live ammunition, killing around 17 people, and allegedly raped at least 8 women.

Concerned about government’s continued silence on the matter, the US, through its Harare embassy, has reminded Zimbabwean authorities of their obligation to account for the perpetrators.

“Two years. When will Zimbabwe investigate, prosecute, and convict government security forces accused of rape, torture, and killing civilians in Jan 2019? Two years is too long to seek justice/answers/accountability,” the embassy said in a twit.

The calls were also supported by the Dutch Embassy in Harare highlighting the need to avail answers to survivors of the atrocities.

“Security forces carried out killings, rape, torture and other grave abuses. It is two years since 17 people were killed and at least 8 women raped in Zimbabwe following protests. The victims and their families still wait for answers,” the Dutch embassy wrote.

Mnangagwa’s tenure took off on a promising note after he had openly embraced bitter opponents in front of an amazed world audience.

However, it did not take long before his administration ordered soldiers to fire live ammunition at opposition protestors of the July 2018 election outcome, resulting in the killing of six people.

The Zimbabwean strongman has gone on to take a hard line stance amid criticism over his government’s tough handling of dissent, often telling off critics for allegedly being agents of western enemies who imposed sanctions on the Harare administration.