Zimbabwean government must stop unprecedented levels of repression ahead of planned protests

(Johannesburg 31 July 2020) Global civil society alliance CIVICUS stands in solidarity with Zimbabwean activists and condemns the targeting of civil society leaders and journalists after unprecedented levels of violence in the run-up to planned protests scheduled for 31 July 2020.

The military has declared protests against the worsening economic situation “illegal” and has militarised the streets, closed businesses and limited movement of people. Many civil society leaders are being monitored by the authorities and the families of others are being held by the police.

The targeting of activists and civil society leaders intensified after the arrests of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, and protest leader and head of Transform Zimbabwe Jacob Ngarivhume on 20 July.

“The level of barbarism we are seeing under the current regime in Zimbabwe is symptomatic of the darkest days of the previous regime. The Zimbabwean authorities have clearly panicked in the run-up to planned protests. They have unleashed a campaign in the hope of silencing journalists and activists and forestalling demonstrations. The African Union and South Africa should condemn these abhorrent actions,” said Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS.

Background

Civil society activists have called for mass protests on 31 July in what they are calling the ‘31 July Movement’, to protest widespread corruption in government, soaring inflation and the dire economic conditions of Zimbabweans. To curb the protests, the streets of Zimbabwe have been heavily militarised and security forces are indiscriminately arresting civil society leaders and journalists. Activist Tawanda Muchehiwa has been abducted and security forces have arrested family members of Zimlive editor and journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu in order to force him to hand himself over to the authorities. Police have created checkpoints and prevented hundreds of people from entering the capital Harare.

For more information on civic space violations, visit the Zimbabwe country page on the CIVICUS Monitor.

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