by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE crackdown by state security forces as well as the spat between government and non-governmental organisations are showing no signs of abating in the wake of last week’s deadly strikes.
It also remains unclear how the return of President Emmerson Mnangagwa from Europe and Asia would impact on the country amid lack of clarity if the price of fuel, which triggered the violent protests would be reversed.
Mnangagwa was expected to address the tense nation upon arrival late on Monday.
Ahead of his arrival, state security forces tightened a crackdown against opposition officials and activists alleged to have influenced the protests.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance reported the arrest of its Member of Parliament (MP) for Harare North, Rusty Markham, on Monday afternoon.
Police accused him of committing public violence following protests held in his constituency.
His lawyers argue he was not in the country when the anti-government demonstrations took place.
The Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary-General, Japhet Moyo, was also arrested on Monday on charges of plotting to overthrow Mnangagwa’s administration following the protests.
His lawyers said police advised Moyo that they would charge him with subverting a constitutionally elected government.
The arrest of Moyo and Markham comes after police officers arrested nine residents of Mabvuku high-density suburb over the weekend and detained them at Harare Central.
They are to appear in court, charged with committing public violence.
Reports persisted of state agents going from house to house, bars, clubs and churches randomly arresting and assaulting citizens.
Meanwhile, despite a Zimbabwe’s High Court ruling that Minister of State for State Security, Owen Ncube, had no authority to order mobile operators to shut down internet access, and that firms should immediately restore unrestricted access, the network clampdown remained in force.
“Only a desperate rogue regime will proscribe without any legal basis freedom of speech and communication,” opposition legislator, Tendai Biti, said.
NGOs meanwhile rejected accusations by government of masterminding the protests to push a so-called no regime change agenda.
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) blamed the violent protests on poor government policies.
“The policies that government has been implementing have not been popular with citizens and the same policies do not improve the standard of living,” NANGO stated.
An increase of over 150 percent in the price of fuel triggered the protests.
– CAJ News