Zimbabwe: Local Zim Activists Report Death Threats... Anti-Govt Protest Organisers 'Fear for Their Lives'

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga (file photo).
5 August 2020

Three Zimbabwean nationals are living in fear after they allegedly received death threats following attempts to organise a solidarity march in Windhoek over multiple accusations of violations of human rights and corruption by the ruling Zanu-PF.

A number of protest marchers are being held across the world in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned he would "flush" out political opponents protesting against alleged state corruption and the country's slumping economy.

The three Zimbabwean-born nationals failed in their attempts to hold a protest march in Windhoek last week Friday. In an interview with New Era yesterday, one of the organisers, Elisha Chambara, confirmed that together with two other Zimbabwean nationals Daniel Nyaungwa and Tabby Moyo, are living in fear, as they received death threats for organising the failed demonstration.

They said the threats were coming from known Zanu-PF functionaries living in Namibia.

"He sent these death threats when we started organising the demonstration. We can't take these death threats lightly because people have been killed in Zimbabwe for talking out against corruption and human rights violations. So, we opened a case with the Namibian police yesterday. We took the evidence of the clip to the police station. He is well-known here in Windhoek. So, we are waiting for the police to act," Chambara noted.

Khomas police commander Joseph Shikongo confirmed he has advised the trio to open a case over the alleged threats.

"They threatened to visit us door-to-door, abduct and kill us. They also did direct threats to me, saying if anyone finds me in a town in Namibia, they must deal with me because I will cause hunger to their families here in Namibia. They said we will not do anything because Swapo is in their hands," Nyaungwa added.

The group had prepared a petition for the Zimbabwean ambassador to Namibia Rofina Chikava last week Friday. However, the embassy called off the demonstration at the last minute.

They claimed the embassy informed the police that all Zimbabwean anti-corruption demonstrations, slated for last Friday, had been banned by the Zimbabwean government and that the embassy would be closed on that day.

Although the ambassador was not available for comment yesterday, the organisers accused the embassy of having used its diplomatic ties with the international relations ministry to ensure the Namibian police does not allow Zimbabwean nationals to demonstrate.

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday confirmed seeing a letter written by Zimbabwean nationals, addressed to their ambassador, to join other countrymen and women in expressing themselves on the political situation back home.

"The high commissioner responded to them that the planned demonstration has been called off. That is all I know," she said. She, however, said, she is waiting to get a full report from the Namibian embassy in Zimbabwe on the situation prevailing in that country before Namibia could comment on the issue. Shikongo said the police could not allow the demonstration to take place until they receive confirmation from the Zimbabwean embassy and the international relations ministry.

'Not in our name'

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe criticised the stance adopted by the authorities, saying the Namibian constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate.

"What the police did to disperse peaceful demonstrators, at the risk of arrest and detention, was unlawful and unconstitutional," he told New Era yesterday.

"As a country, we must be able to allow citizens and non-citizens alike to be able to vent their frustrations and concerns through peaceful demonstrations. As a country, we must be offended by what the Zimbabwean government is doing to our fellow SADC citizens, and by not permitting the demonstrations was tantamount to supporting the brutal assault of citizens across the Zambezi River. It must not be done in our name."

The ACTION Coalition yesterday also pleaded with President Hage Geingob and AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat to act in the interests of human rights in Zimbabwe.

"As a coalition of Namibian human rights and media organisations, we condemn the recent arrests, kidnappings, beatings and harassment of Zimbabwean civil society activists protesting against corruption and journalists exposing it," read the statement issued by Frederico Links.

"The crackdown by the Zimbabwean government has seen the arrest of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono on 20 July on charges of "inciting public violence" after he merely amplified the investigative report by Zimlive's Mduduzi Mathuthu.

Mathuthu's report exposed corruption in the awarding of government contracts related to Covid-19.

Other journalists have had to go into hiding for fear of being arrested over their critical reporting of what is happening in the country."

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