July 31 protests: State force pushes activists into hiding

MDC youth league chairperson Obey Sithole

MUTARE – The security apparatchiks are unfairly targeting known political activists for arrest on trumped up COVID-19 national lock-down violation charges, MDC Alliance has alleged.

This comes after the party’s provincial deputy secretary for organising and party building, Itai Masaka, was arrested in this eastern border city of Mutare on allegations of loitering.

Masaka was arrested while shopping around in the city.

MDC Alliance provincial spokesperson David Panganai said the arrest was suspicious as he was well within the mandated five-kilometre radius of his home.

“We had to pay an admission of guilt fine of $500 to avoid being locked up and placed at risk of contracting coronavirus,” Panganai said in an interview with Zim Morning Post.

He said the arrest could not have been coincidental as all known opposition and civic society activists are under increased surveillance in the run-up to the planned July 32 anti-corruption protests.

“The entire city is teeming with people going about their business and his arrest was targeted and clearly meant to harass me,” he said.

Most prominent pro-democracy activists are currently in hiding as state security agents are hunting them down as efforts to foil the planned protests intensify.

The protests were called by Transform Zimbabwe president Jacob Ngarivhume, who has since been arrested together with investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

They have both been denied bail and are appealing the decision at the High Court.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has since published a list of names of activists it is hoping to interview over the protests which Zanu PF and war veterans have since vowed to crush by any means possible, alleging that the demonstrations are meant to subvert a constitutionally elected government.

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