Zimbabwe: Dangarembga Arrest Triggers Global Storm

Zimbabwe flag.

The arrest of award-winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga, a nominee for this year's Booker Prize, and several political activists on Friday has invited global condemnation and demands for their immediate release.

The 61-year-old author was arrested alongside a colleague, Julie Barnes, while protesting in Borrowdale on Friday morning.

Dangarembga was carrying placards calling for reforms and for the release of journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who was arrested in Harare two weeks ago.

She appeared in court yesterday.

On Friday opposition parties and civil society organisations called for protests against alleged government corruption, injustice and misgovernment, among a plethora of challenges.

However, there was heavy military and police presence in the city centre and residential areas. A handful of people, who tried to protest were arrested and charged with inciting violence.

Dangarembga, who rose to fame in 1988 after releasing the book Nervous Conditions, has been among a few local artists who have been voicing against corruption, injustice and misgovernment by the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government.

Her arrest on Friday has invited global condemnation.

"The consitituition of Zimbabwe gurantees the right to peaceful protests, a right that @efie41209591, @advocatemahere and others exercised today [Friday].

"They should be released from police custody. #EU4HumanRights," tweeted the European Union in Zimbabwe.

Former leader of South African opposition party Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane concurred: "Stop what you are doing @edmnangagwa."

Zimbabwe-born MTV Base presenter and model Kim Jayde called on the authorities to stop the clampdown on citizens.

"Dear world. I pray you keep my country Zimabbwe in your prayers tonight as innocent protestors and journalists are abducted and arrested by the army and riot police for speaking up against injustice. This can't go on," Kim Jayde said.

Several global human rights defenders also condemned the arrest of the revered author.

An arts critic, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the arrest of Dangarembga had put Zimbabwe on the global spotlight.

"We have had people like Hopewell, Fadzayi [Mahere] and others being arrested, but it is the arrest of Tsitsi Dangarembga that will have everyone asking," said the critic.

"Check how Tsitsi's story is trending globally. It was picked by almost all international media outlets. This is just inviting unnecessary attention."

A growing list of local artistes is taking time on and off social media to air their views on a host of issues affecting the country's citizens at a time the socio-political situation has, like the economy, taken a turn for the worst.

In the past few weeks leading to the much-hyped July 31 protests, musicians, actors, novelists and sportspeople joined a long list of people speaking out against the wrongs of the incumbent Zanu PF government.

"Vatiregerera (they have let us down)... cry my beloved Zimbabwe.. ko nhai Mwari isu vana venyu tatadzeiko? It's about 20 years of pain and suffering... " award-winning music producer Sanii Makhalima tweeted recently.

Makhalima is one of the few, who never shied from airing their views when it comes to politics even at times when many in the creative sector have chosen to remain mum.

However, in the build-up to Friday's abortive protests, a rising number of stars took to platforms like Twitter to register their disgruntlement with the state of affairs as well as showing solidarity with the dissenters.

"Friends, here is principle. If you want your suffering to end, you have to act. Actions come from hope. This is the principle of faith and action," wrote the internationally acclaimed novelist Dangarembga.

"The duty of the youth is to confront corruption. We did not inherit resources from our ancestors, we borrowed from our children. History will remember the youths who danced when borrowed resources were being abused as the greatest fools of all time. Our only hope is to speak out," teen motocross champion Tanya Muzinda also weighed in.

Revered musician Leonard Mapfumo wrote a passionate tweet detailing the changes he imagines: "I dream of a Zimbabwe with running water, working hospitals, service stations with an option of blend or super, free education for all, an efficient transport system, world-class infrastructure, subsidised local tourism and a Zimbabwe every Zimbabwean is proud to call home."

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