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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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Zimbabwe intensifies crackdown on critics, issues warrant for 14

Zimbabwe police on Monday launched a hunt for opposition and union activists, days after a prominent journalist was held for encouraging mass anti-corruption protests.

The police appealed in a statement for information on the whereabouts of 14 well-known government critics including trade unionist Peter Mutasa, opposition legislator Job Sikhala and two former youth leaders of ruling Zanu-PF party.

It follows the arrest last week of opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume who called for the 31 July protests and journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono, an outspoken critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.

Chin’ono invited the public to join the July 31 demonstrations via Facebook and Twitter. He had also helped expose a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal known as Covidgate, involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies.

The two were charged with incitement to commit public violence and denied bail by a magistrates court.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at the weekend the duo had sought to overthrow Mnangagwa’s government in collusion with the United States and unnamed western powers.

On Monday, Zanu-PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa called the US ambassador Brian Nicholls “a thug” claiming that he was sponsoring and training insurgents.

“He must be ashamed of himself,” Chinamasa said told a news conference at the party headquarters in Harare.

“If he continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic mobilising and funding disturbances, organising violence and training insurgents our leaders will not hesitate to give him marching orders.”

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