A leading human rights campaigner in Zimbabwe says that the Robert Mugabe led Zanu PF government had lost the support of the people in the light of recent protests that have hit the southern African country.
“Zimbabweans say they have had enough. We do not want such obligation notes and we want the government to listen when we speak of growing poverty that every Zimbabwean lives in at the moment,” the activist told AFP.
Jestina Mukoko who heads a human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) called “Zimbabwe Peace Project” says she was arrested and tortured by the regime in 2008. She however says the concerted nature of the recent protests is a clear signal that the government had grave concerns to address.
Zimbabweans say they have had enough. We want the government to listen when we speak of growing poverty that every Zimbabwean lives in at the moment.
“The increase in poverty has united Zimbabweans in anger,” Mukoko said on the sidelines of the launch of the Congress of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in Johannesburg, Africa South.
“In the past, the anger was disparate: journalists, white farmers, trade unionists protesting their separate ways, at different times,” she said. “We see citizens who are not afraid to go into the street, we had not seen it for a long time,” she added.
Since June this year, Zimbabwe has experienced a series of protests against the economic policies of the government. The country is experiencing serious currency shortages especially with the United States dollar. Locals have also flatly rejected the reintroduction of bond notes by the finance ministry and central bank.
In early August, Robert Mugabe said that protests against him were “unnecessary” as they were finishing “in violence.”
The government have been unable to pay civil servants as scheduled in the past two months. Social media activists described as ‘cyber terrorists’ have succeeded in organizing protests that have often been broken up by police using batons and tear gas.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government is drafting a law to penalize “abusive” usage of social media with five-year jail terms.
The legislation contained in the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill is part of the government’s response to recent anti-government protests largely organized and mobilized via social media. Hashtags such as #ThisFlag have attracted large numbers of followers.