Biden raises red flag over human rights violations in Zimbabwe

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The United States has raised the red flag over alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe, which include torture of government critics by security forces.

In its country report on human rights practices in 2020, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour said Zimbabwean security forces acted with tacit support from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

The report is yet another unflattering assessment of President Mnangagwa’s administration by the US in the last three years following a military coup that toppled long time ruler Robert Mugabe.

“Non-governmental organisations reported security forces abducted, assaulted and tortured citizens in custody, including targeted assault on and torture of civil society activists, labour leaders, opposition members and other perceived opponents of the government,” the report released on Tuesday says.

“Human rights groups reported government agents continued to perpetrate physical and psychological torture on labour leaders and opposition members during abductions.

“Reported torture methods included sexual assault, beating victims with sticks, clubs, cables, gun butts and sjamboks (a heavy whip), falanga (beating the soles of the feet), forced consumption of human excrement and oral chemical poisoning, as well as pouring corrosive substances on exposed skin.”

Persecution

Meanwhile, opposition MDC Alliance and political analysts yesterday said Zimbabwe should expect the worst in terms of arrests and conviction of opposition activists as the country approaches the 2023 harmonised elections.

These assertions were made after the conviction of MDC Alliance activist Makomborero Haruziviishe on Wednesday for inciting public violence.

MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa described the conviction of Haruziviishe, who faces a possible 20-year jail term, as persecution of opposition activists.

“Our inability to resolve our differences peacefully and fix broken politics is costing us opportunities to make Zimbabwe great in our lifetime,” Chamisa said.

“ED (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) must accept and embrace diversity and differences. Diversity is the substance of all human existence. Stop persecuting dissent, dissent strengthens. Differences make us better. Diversity is profitable,” he said.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said Haruziviishe’s conviction was a clear indication of “weaponisation of the law against our members”.

“He is a well-known activist who is being targeted because he is vocal about poverty, injustice and corruption faced by the citizens and because he is a member of the MDC Alliance,” Mahere said, adding that his conviction was meant to have a chilling effect on MDC Alliance activists and silence dissent.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said: “The regime is tightening screws on the opposition by moving a gear up from harassment, beatings and threats to putting people in prison. Charges on opposition activists are politicised to set an example and frighten the rest of opposition from confronting the regime.”

United Kingdom-based lawyer Alex Magaisa said: “But it was only a matter of time before the Mnangagwa regime started to convict and lock up political opponents. It will only get worse. More disappointing is the scant media attention to this significant milestone. If my memory is faithful, this is the first conviction of an opposition official for inciting public violence.”

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said the conviction was a ploy by the ruling party to silence dissent. Online news

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