BY SILAS NKALA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has decimated the trust and hope the people had in his administration through the economic meltdown and the brutal crackdown on dissent, the Zimbabwe Peace Project has said in its latest report.
Mnangagwa took over power from the late former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 following a coup.
He legitimised his presidency through the disputed July 30 2018 polls.
During election campaigns, Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party promised economic boom and jobs for the millions of unemployed masses.
“August 26 marked the anniversary of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration into office. Zimbabweans had very high hopes for his administration, buttressed by his election promises that living conditions for many will improve to much better levels than those experienced during (former) President Robert Mugabe’s 38-year rule,” the ZPP report read.
“One year on and Zimbabweans have found themselves in a worse situation than before. August has particularly been characterised by a drastic upsurge in human rights violations largely brought on by the call for demonstrations by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leadership in some of the major cities of the country.”
The human rights watchdog said the period leading up to the planned demonstrations was characterised by a sharp increase of violations such as intimidation, abductions, torture and assault of mostly MDC, civil society activists and artists.
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“ZPP has, over the past few months, reiterated the need for progressive and open dialogue by leading political and other actors as well as all segments of society in a bid to avoid conflict,” the watchdog said.
“Challenging living conditions such as the increasingly difficult economic conditions, severe power cuts, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities were noted as triggers likely to lead to widespread clashes. Sadly, this has come to pass and there are strong indications that this volatility will increase going forward.”
ZPP also indicated that the State has countered criticism with persecution of perceived critics and this was particularly apparent in the month of August.
“MDC called for demonstrations in Harare (August 16), Bulawayo (August 18) Gweru and Mutare on August 19 and 20, respectively. Days leading up to the demonstrations were characterised by a sharp increase in abductions, torture and assaults,” ZPP reported.
“The State prohibited demonstrations planned for Harare through an order on August 15, asserting that there were indications that the planned demonstrations would be violent. MDC reacted by filing an urgent chamber application seeking to quash the ban, but Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled against them stating that they should have lodged their appeal at the Magistrates’ Court.”
The human rights watchdog lamented that citizens who had responded to the call for a demonstration in Harare waited patiently for the High Court to deliver its decision on the matter, only to be brutally attacked later by the police.
“Several protesters were injured while many more were arrested when riot police violently dispersed them. Most of those arrested have been denied bail since their detention.
“The demonstration calls also triggered the police to mount roadblocks that are a reminder of the situation prior to November 2017 during former President Robert Mugabe’s era. For several weeks, travellers have been harassed at check points. They have been subjected to searches and those without identification documents have been detained.
“The situation with the police and the upsurge in abductions, torture and assaults are a reminder of how promises made in the aftermath of November 2017 and the run-up to the July 30 elections have all become a pipe dream,” the ZPP noted.
ZPP added that the depressed economic conditions continue unabated from the time when Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced his mid-term budget review on August 1, which sadly did not bring much joy for most Zimbabweans.
Teachers, who protested and decided to hand over a petition expressing their grievances to Ncube, were forcefully removed from the premises and charged with “criminal nuisance”.