There is still no word from the South African government on the growing number of reports of alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
Department spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele told News24 on Tuesday morning that consultations were still under way. A statement is expected to be released soon.
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 ZanuPF-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 streets of central Harare are empty, as soldiers and police patrol to enforce a ban on protests. Demonstrators had been set to take to the streets to protest against alleged state corruption and the deteriorating economy.
“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. News24 earlier reported that the writer was charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations after staging a two-women demonstration in Harare.
Speaking to journalists shortly after bail was granted, Dangarembga said: “I feel that probably, all Zimbabweans want a better life for all Zimbabweans and the people who live here. I think that is bright motive to have, it is good thing to live by and to work for.”
— #CitizensInitiativeZw #FrontlinersZw #Covid19Zw (@FazilaMahomed3) August 3, 2020
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