Zimbabweans to protest Mnangagwa’s assumption of SADC Chairmanship in Zambia

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assumption of regional body SADC’s chairmanship next August have organised a two-day demonstration in Zambia.

The demonstration is set to be held at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre on July 11 and 12 out of fear that protesting locally will get people arrested, incarcerated, maimed or killed.

Mnangagwa has already made it clear that he will not tolerate any dissent ahead of the SADC’s August Summit where he is expected to take over leadership of the Southern Africa bloc.

Over 70 opposition activists, accused of planning protests against him during the SADC summit, are languishing in Harare’s Central Remand Prison having been arrested on June 16.

They were charged with participating in an unsanctioned gathering and disorderly conduct, despite their meeting having been one to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

“No to ED’s SADC Chairmanship,” reads a poster circulating online.

“Zimbabwe is under a military dictatorship characterised by corruption, nepotism, poverty, and open repression. Let us rise up.”

A chilling message from Zanu PF Director of Information Farai Marapira has also been used to support the decision to hold the demonstration in Lusaka.

Marapira told journalists, a fortnight ago, that the party and government were prepared to deal with any dissent before or during the summit.

“We are ready to deal with any subversiveness…decidedly. We are waiting for the signal,” said Marapira.

Some members of firebrand activist Job Sikhala’s National Democratic Working Group (NDWG) were also picked up by the police who accused them of plotting similar protests at the August summit.

The clampdown has not gone unnoticed though.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week called on SADC to engage Mnangagwa and his administration to ensure they respect Zimbabweans’ right to peaceful protest and other privileges.

“The government of President Mnangagwa is accelerating its crackdown against legitimate and peaceful activism ahead of the August summit,” said HRW Africa Advocacy Director Allan Ngari.

“SADC needs to engage with the authorities to take clear measures to ensure the enjoyment of basic freedoms by all Zimbabweans.”