There is a social contract between government and citizens that outline their respective duties and responsibilities.  When governments fail in their tasks, citizens have the right and sometimes the duty to withdraw their support and even rebel.  Freedom of speech is a fundamental characteristic of a democratic state.  This month, ahead of a national protest, two Zimbabweans Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested for “incitement to commit public violence”.

Jacob Ngarivhume, politician and the leader of Transform Zimbabwe, called for national protest against corruption on 31 July 2020.  Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono used social media to expose corruption in the government ranks.  Both Ngarivhume and Chin’ono highlighted recent corruption regarding a $60m deal to procure COVID-19 test kits and medical equipment that involved the president’s son, Colin Mnangagwa, Drax International LLC and Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.  The scandal comes as health professionals including nurses and doctors in Zimbabwe are on strike demanding payment of their salaries in US dollars. Doctors earn around 300 USD a month, while nurses earn a measly 60 USD.

In May 3 women Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, all opposition party members, were abducted by the Zimbabwean government.  They allege state agents abducted, beat and sexually assaulted them and forced them to drink each other’s urine.

Journalists, lawyers, doctors and nurses are among those who have been arrested in recent months in Zimbabwe for protesting, striking for better pay or, in some cases, simply doing their work amid rising tensions in the country.  Once dubbed “the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe is facing the worst hunger crisis in over a decade.  Inflation is running above 700 percent and corruption is rife.

Despite promises for change, corruption and brutality still reign.  Zimbabweans have suffered enough.

#FreeJacobNgarivhume #FreeHopewellChin’ono

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or Zimbabwe: sexual violence as a weapon of political oppression