No to ED’s SADC Chairmanship: Massive international condemnation as Zimbabweans protest Mnangagwa’s leadership


The stifling grip of repression in Zimbabwe has driven dissenters to seek refuge across borders, with a planned protest against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assumption of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship set to take place in Zambia. This unprecedented move, a testament to the fear and intimidation that pervades Zimbabwe, highlights the growing discontent with Mnangagwa’s leadership and the escalating crackdown on dissent.

The two-day demonstration, scheduled for July 11th and 12th at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Centre, is a direct response to the suffocating atmosphere of fear that has engulfed Zimbabwe. The decision to hold the protest outside the country speaks volumes about the dire state of affairs within Zimbabwe’s borders. Protesters fear the consequences of speaking out against Mnangagwa’s rule, knowing that they could face arrest, imprisonment, or even worse, as has been the fate of many others who dared to voice their dissent.

“No to ED’s SADC Chairmanship,” reads a poster circulating online, a stark reminder of the deep-seated opposition to Mnangagwa’s leadership. “Zimbabwe is under a military dictatorship characterised by corruption, nepotism, poverty, and open repression. Let us rise up.”

The chilling message from Zanu PF Director of Information Farai Marapira, who warned journalists that the party and government were prepared to deal “decisively” with any dissent before or during the SADC summit, further underlines the climate of fear that prevails in Zimbabwe. “We are ready to deal with any subversiveness…decidedly. We are waiting for the signal,” Marapira stated, a chilling reminder of the lengths to which the government is willing to go to silence opposition.

The recent arrests of nearly 80 opposition activists, accused of planning protests against Mnangagwa during the SADC summit, are a stark illustration of the government’s intolerance of dissent. These individuals, who were arrested on June 16th and charged with participating in an unsanctioned gathering and disorderly conduct, were simply commemorating the Day of the African Child. Their detention, a blatant attempt to stifle any potential opposition to Mnangagwa’s leadership, has sparked widespread condemnation from human rights organisations.

“The government of President Mnangagwa is accelerating its crackdown against legitimate and peaceful activism ahead of the August summit,” said Allan Ngari, HRW Africa Advocacy Director. “SADC needs to engage with the authorities to take clear measures to ensure the enjoyment of basic freedoms by all Zimbabweans.”

The planned protest in Zambia is a desperate cry for help, a plea for the international community to take notice of the human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe. It is a testament to the courage of those who dare to speak out against a regime that has systematically eroded the fundamental freedoms of its citizens.

The demonstration in Lusaka, while a symbolic gesture of defiance, is unlikely to deter Mnangagwa from his pursuit of power. However, it serves as a powerful reminder that the spirit of resistance is alive, even in the face of overwhelming repression. The international community must heed the call for action, condemning the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and demanding that Mnangagwa’s government respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.

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