Zim police detain Mawarire in wake of protests

Leading Zimbabwean activist Evan Mawarire was detained by police on Wednesday when he was taken from his house in a widening crackdown after anti-government protests, AFP reporters witnessed.

The nationwide protests were triggered by the government announcing at the weekend that fuel would more than double in price as the country’s economic crisis deepens.

Police had been at Mawarire’s property for more than two hours before he was driven away in a truck.

“Armed police surrounded his residence this morning and he has been picked up. We don’t know for what purpose,” Teldah Mawarire, his sister, said.

“I was directly in contact with him until he was taken and he could no longer be online. We are very concerned.”


Security forces have shot dead at least five people and wounded 25 others during the crackdown since Monday’s protests, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Those responsible for using unlawful lethal force should be promptly investigated and held accountable,” Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at HRW, said in a statement.

HRW said security forces responded with live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas on Monday after protesters burned a police station, barricaded roads with large rocks, and looted shops in Harare, Kadoma and Bulawayo cities.

Internet shutdown

Mawarire, a pastor, became a prominent voice in 2016 protests when he posted social media videos criticising the government while he wore a Zimbabwean flag around his neck.

The videos inspired the #ThisFlag movement that led mass protests across the country against Robert Mugabe, the long-time president who was ousted in 2017 after a military takeover.

Mawarire, who was holding a Zimbabwean flag as he was taken away on Wednesday, has also been a fierce critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran of the ruling ZANU-PF party who succeeded Mugabe.

Mawarire’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told reporters he had been taken to a city centre police station.

“They are alleging that he incited violence….through Twitter and other forms of social media particularly in the central business district,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s mobile phone networks and internet were largely shut down for the second day on Wednesday, while most businesses, offices and shops in the capital Harare have been closed since Monday’s protests.

Mnangagwa announced the fuel price hike in a televised address late Saturday, saying it was needed to tackle severe shortages and illegal trading.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in dire straits since hyperinflation wiped out savings between 2007 and 2009, when the Zimbabwean dollar was abandoned in favour of the US dollar.

Mnangagwa — Mugabe’s former deputy — has claimed that he represents a fresh start and has vowed to revive the shattered economy by attracting foreign investment.

But since his disputed election victory in July, the country has been hit by renewed shortages of fuel, bread, medicine and other daily essentials.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Susan Njanji
Guest Author

Related stories

The natural resource curse in Cabo Delgado

A humanitarian crisis looms as a violent insurgency continues to sweep over northern Mozambique. As many flee to safety, the question remains: who, or what, fuels the fire?

Women who defy Mnangagwa are jailed, raped, tortured

Many of them end up in Chikurubi prison where the cells are cold, the blankets are filthy and the toilets are in the crowded cells

Civilians need to oversee South Africa’s defence force

ANC officials’ ‘taxi’ ride in an SANDF jet to Zimbabwe is further evidence that more transparency is needed in the military

Inside Zim’s illicit gold mine trade

Desperate people mine the mineral, but it is ‘untouchable big people’, including top state officials, who reap the real benefits

The brutal abduction caught on camera in Zimbabwe

Tawanda Muchehiwa is one of dozens of Zimbabweans who have been kidnapped and tortured by unidentified armed men

Campaigning together, but on their own

Social media is driving a new – largely anonymous – form of protest in Zimbabwe and Zambia
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Q&A Sessions: ‘My north star is the patient’

Rhulani Nhlaniki is Pfizer’s cluster lead for sub-Saharan Africa. As Pfizer starts phase III of the clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, he tells Malaikah Bophela that if it is successful, the company will ensure the vaccine will be available to everyone who needs it

Ghost fishing gear an ‘immortal menace’ in oceans

Lost and illegal tackle is threatening marine life and the lives of people making a living from the sea

In terms of future-telling failures, this is a Major One

Bushiri knows how to pull a crowd. Ace knows a ponzi scheme. Paddy Harper predicts that a new prophet may profit at Luthuli House

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday