Zimbabwe: Rein in security forces and stop mass arrests in wake of disputed vote

The Zimbabwean authorities must stop arresting and harassing protesters and bystanders following post-election violence that has killed at least six people, Amnesty International said.

More than 60 people have been arbitrarily arrested in the past seven days in a government crackdown on supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader Nelson Chamisa has disputed official election results declaring President Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the vote.

On Friday, the president announced an investigation after riot police attempted to shut down an MDC press conference, saying that anyone was free to speak to the media.

Amnesty has called for the Zimbabwean authorities to launch a prompt and effective investigation into the army’s killing of six people after Monday’s election. More than 20 people were wounded when soldiers used live ammunition to quell protests.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Southern Africa Regional Director, said:

“President Mnangagwa must make good on his commitment to settling political differences peacefully, respectfully, and within the confines of the law.

“He must begin by ordering the security forces to stop their vicious campaign of torture, intimidation and suppression of dissenting voices and mass arrests of opposition supporters.

“Zimbabweans are desperate for a new beginning. They have been broken and beaten down by decades of horrific human rights violations.

“More than anything they want an end to the unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests that tainted Mugabe’s rule, and a chance to live their lives in peace and dignity.

“The authorities must show true leadership and heed the demands of ordinary people to be able to exercise their freedom of speech and right to protest.”