EWN reports that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently sent an envoy, consisting of Sydney Mufamadi, Baleka Mbete and several others, to speak with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa amid mass arrests of journalists, opposition leaders and protesting citizens in the country. While the Zanu-PF led government denies there is an ongoing crisis, there continues to be public outcry from Zimbabweans who are demanding socio-political and economic changes under the online banner of #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.
The envoy to South Africa was sent following mounting pressure for the South African government to intervene in Zimbabwe’s continued unrest. While it is not yet clear what the outcome of these discussions were, the MDC has expressed concern over having been excluded from the dialogue despite having reportedly been in talks with the South African envoy about a meeting. In a press statement, the opposition party stated the following:
“We can only assume that the failure to meet the MDC Alliance delegation was as a result of demands made by the Zanu PF delegation. We reiterate that Zimbabwe is in a state of crisis that has been characterized by a de facto gate of emergency a crackdown on citizens, abductions. arbitrary arrests of government critics and the political persecution of journalists.”
Over the past few months, Zimbabwe has been rocked by several mass protests. Initially, opposition leaders from the MDC had planned anti-government protests for July 31st, the second anniversary of President Mnangagwa’s election into office. However, the protests were thwarted by Zanu-PF, with many protesters staying away out of fear. Months later, doctors and nurses then protested the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), poor salaries and inadequate resources required at hospitals across the country in the continued fight against COVID-19.
More recently, there have been protests following the arrest of several journalists and opposition leaders including Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume––both of whom have been denied bail and are still in police custody. Prominent author Tsitsi Dangarembga was also arrested and detained by authorities for her solo protest.