Pretoria – Civil rights movement #NotInMyName on Tuesday announced that it will be leading protests at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria to highlight what it termed a disappearance of democratic space in South Africa’s northern neighbour.
“It is evident that the Zimbabwean regime is hell-bent on subverting our civil liberties and the country’s constitution through thwarting and prosecuting dissenting voices. As #NotInMyName International, we will thus be picketing at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday,” said secretary-general Themba Masango.
“We are in solidarity with all progressive forces of the world and today particularly those in Zimbabwe, in Africa and the diaspora. Our destinies are intrinsically linked and therefore it will be amiss for us as South Africa’s leading civil society voice to be quiet and still at a time such as this.”
Masango said #NotInMyName had reached out to and will be joined by other “forward-thinking organisations and individuals who want a free and prosperous Zimbabwe”.
“The regime in Zimbabwe has reactivated its authoritarian systems to crush dissenting voices, and we have been following the numerous reports from our sources and contacts across Zimbabwe. Journalists and activists are being harassed and arbitrarily arrested and as a result, Zimbabweans now live in constant and persistent fear of persecution and prosecution. We are aware of the many arrests and abductions happening there,” said Masango.
Last week, a small crowd of disgruntled Zimbabweans living in South Africa marched from the Union Buildings to the Zimbabwean embassy in Arcadia, Pretoria, in solidarity with their compatriots at home, lamenting the deepening economic crisis and perceived rampant corruption involving senior Zimbabwe government officials.
At the Pretoria picket, chairman of the MDC Alliance in South Africa Trust Ndlovu said democratic space in Zimbabwe was shrinking.
“This protest has nothing to do with a political party; we are here as Zimbabweans coming together to speak with one voice. As you know, back in Zimbabwe we are having challenges with the decaying economy, the health system has collapsed and there are no doctors, there is no employment, we have serious challenges there and our people are suffering,” said Ndlovu.
Moments after the crowd gathered at the closed embassy gates, some banging on the gates, South African Police Service (SAPS) officers arrived and gave the protesters 30 minutes to disperse.
Ndlovu said the protesters had not obtained permission to demonstrate at the embassy, but they decided to take to the streets in solidarity with the Friday, July 31, protests in Zimbabwe. He vowed that Zimbabweans in South Africa would continue to organise and return to the embassy in future.
Zanu-PF spokesperson in South Africa Kennedy Mandaza said the planned protests, including at the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa and its consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town, had “failed dismally”.
“The marches were not successful because you cannot hoodwink Zimbabweans and the rational international community alike by seeking to force a legitimately elected government through purported anti-corruption protests. In fact, the demonstrations further exposed the disingenuous and tomfoolery of the opposition, who negate the real issues at stake in favour of regime change,” said Mandaza.
He said Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa had been at the forefront of fighting crime after taking over from former strongman Robert Mugabe.
“Corruption in all its forms is condemned by President Mnangagwa, Zanu-PF, and government, and there have been consistent calls for decisive action on corruption. MDC and its alliances are greatly complicit in corruption, which is rampant in all councils run by MDC Alliance in Zimbabwe,” said Mandaza.
“If they were genuinely protesting against corruption they should have taken it right to the doorstep of their leader, Nelson Chamisa, Harare mayor Herbert Gomba and all councils that are embroiled in corruption and illegal parcelling of land, which have even sucked in embassies colluding with the opposition. The opposition must be reminded that charity begins at home. Theirs is the case of a kettle calling a pot black,” he said.
African News Agency/ANA