Dozens of irate Zimbabweans staged protests in front of their embassy in Pretoria on Friday, to highlight the human rights abuses taking place back home after a security crackdown saw at least 60 activists, including journalists, detained without trial this week.The protesting Zimbabweans, most of whom are migrants and asylum seekers who ran away from previous abuses in their country, were forcibly dispersed from the embassy by the local police who fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at them.
Before this, the police were seen pushing and shoving the peaceful protesters carrying their country’s colours and placards reading “Mnangagwa: You are going to The Hague! Murderer! Thief!”; “#Zimbabwe Lives Matter” and “ZANU MUST GO”.
The use of rubber bullets and stun grenades, however, was too much for the mainly young protesters who ran for their lives from the local police’s crackdown.
The migrants in Pretoria were responding to the plight of their fellow citizens back in crisis-hit Zimbabwe, who have been protesting against alleged corruption and a poor economy worsened by the coronavirus lockdown.
The Zimbabwe government, however, has dismissed the human rights abuses allegations, arrests of activists and the crisis in the country as false.
“There is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abductions or ‘war’ on citizens,” Zimbabwe Government Spokesman Nick Mangwana said.
However, his boss and President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to “flush out” the country’s critics, saying they were “dark forces and terrorists.”
Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had appointed two special envoys to work with Harare “following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing”.