Southern Africa: Zimbabwean Protestors in Namibia Claim Death Threats

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga (file photo).

A group of Zimbabwean nationals living in Namibia claim they have received death threats after attempting a mass protest and submit a petition to the Zimbabwean embassy last week.

The group staged a mini protest in front of their embassy in Windhoek on Friday over the political situation in their home country. The group claims that the death threats are from Zimbabwean ruling party Zanu-PF supporters in Namibia.

"We've received death threats by text saying they [Zanu-PF supporters] will come and visit our house one-by-one at night. It's scary and I worry whether my family will be safe," Elisha Chambara, co-organiser of the demonstration told The Namibian on Wednesday morning.

The protestors also claim that their plans to stage a mass protest were dashed by the Namibian authorities and that Zimbabwean ambassador to Namibia, Rofina Chikava, refused to accept their petition.

The group is standing in solidarity with their fellow citizens in Zimbabwe who were arrested in the run up to planned nationwide protests last week against government corruption under the hashtag #31stJuly.

The protestors in Zimbabwe demanded that Zanu-PF must go. Some of those arrested include journalists and political activists.

In their petition, the protestors in Windhoek said they were demanding anti-corruption strategies "that hold government and politicians accountable to the people of Zimbabwe."

Chambara, said they initially received verbal permission from the Namibian Police for a mass demonstration but this was revoked a day before the planned protest.

"The (Khomas) regional police commander [Joseph Shikongo] called us and said his hands were tied and that the demonstration had to be called off," Chambara said.

Shikongo however denied that the group received permission for the demonstration. "We never gave them permission and we never revoked it. I explained this to them and we agreed to call off the plans for the demonstration," he told The Namibian on Monday.

Chambara said a letter was sent to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation by the Zimbabwean embassy to prohibit the gathering, which Shikongo confirmed.

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah on Wednesday morning confirmed that the ministry had received two letters regarding the planned protest by Zimbabwean nationals.

"I saw two letters at the ministry regarding this issue. The first was from Zimbabweans in Namibia informing the mission [the Zimbabwean embassy] that they were going to be demonstrating as it was going to be parallel with other demonstrations around the world," the minister said.

She added: "The second letter was from the Zimbabwean embassy telling the nationals to cancel as even the other demonstrations were cancelled. That's all I know."

Chambara claims that the Zimbabwean embassy was attempting to silence their voices to protect that country's government: "We are supposed to take our grievances to them as citizens but they don't assist," said Chambara.

The group currently has no plans to re-attempt the submission of the petition to the Zimbabwean ambassador.

The Namibian could not obtain comment from the Zimbabwean embassy.

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