SOUTH African police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd that had gathered at Zimbabwe’s Embassy in Pretoria in a protest to highlight police brutality, detentions and torture in that country.
The protesters, mainly Zimbabweans in the diaspora organised under the banner of #Notinmyname carried placards calling for an end to human rights violations.
The demonstration came hours after South Africa has appointed two veteran politicians as special enjoys to Zimbabwe, in an effort to broker a political solution to a growing internal strife, marked by police brutality, detentions and torture in that country.
Former cabinet minister Dr. Sydney Mufamadi and ex-National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete have been appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. “The special envoys are expected to engage the government of Zimbabwe and relevant stakeholders to identify possible ways in which South Africa can assist Zimbabwe,” the South African presidency said in a statement.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule also revealed this week that the party was in touch with Zanu-PF in an effort to find a political solution.
Ramaphosa’s appointment of special emissaries came on the day that the Zimbabwean High Court has denied bail to a journalist who was arrested last month for supporting anti-government protests, in a case that has sparked an outcry over muzzling of the press.
Hopewell Chin’ono, a freelance journalist and critic of the government, was charged with inciting violence last month, together with opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume.
Security forces deployed last Friday to thwart protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government’s record on corruption and a worsening economic crisis.
South Africa said it was concerned by reports of rights violations in Zimbabwe and its international relations minister had spoken to Zimbabwean foreign minister about the issue.
The government said allegations of human rights abuses were false and there was no crisis in Zimbabwe.
“Neither has there been any abduction or ‘war’ on citizens,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a statement.
Judge Tawanda Chitapi upheld the ruling of a lower court that denied Chin’ono bail last month. The judge deferred politician Ngarivhume’s bail ruling to Friday.
Human rights lawyers say authorities have arrested dozens of activists over Friday’s protests and abducted and tortured others. The government denies this.
Several activists say they are in hiding from police.
Award-winning novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga, who is free on bail after being arrested on Friday, said Zimbabweans were under a state “chokehold”.
Critics say Mnangagwa is using the cover of a COVID-19 lockdown to silence critics as anger grows over 737% inflation — which has brought back memories of hyperinflation under former President Robert Mugabe a decade ago — a collapsing health sector and shortage of public transport.
In a speech on Tuesday, Mnangagwa said the economy was under attack from local and foreign enemies. – African Mirror Reporter and Thomson Reuters Foundation.