The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has joined the many voices expressing their support for Zimbabweans amid protests in the country.
Zimbabweans have taken to the streets to protest against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy.
The government has denounced the protests, calling them an “insurrection”. As a result, the country’s citizens, including author Tsitsi Dangarembga, were arrested and charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations.
Dangarembga has since been freed on bail.
The country’s government has been widely criticised, with social media users shedding light on the protests using the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.
Amnesty International has also joined those who condemned the crackdown on protests and dissent.
“This latest witch-hunt and repression of peaceful dissent is a continuation of what we have seen in the country in recent years, including the abductions and arbitrary arrests of those who are critical of the government,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa.
“The brutal assault on political activists and human rights defenders who have had the courage to call out alleged corruption and demand accountability from their government is intensifying,” she said.
In a statement on Monday evening, the EFF called for the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa to be removed until “they restore the human rights in that country”.
“Failure to do so will result in direct action by EFF to prevent any official from the Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in SA until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans,” the party said, receiving praise from both South Africans and Zimbabweans, who commended it for taking a stand.
The EFF leader and the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa have, in the past few days, been engaged in a bitter exchange of words after his party released a statement questioning the country’s political and economic logic for compensating white former land owners.
Last week, Zimbabwe announced a US$3.5 billion compensation for 4,000 white farmers whose farms were confiscated.
However, according to the EFF, the compensation meant government had declared the people of Zimbabwe as enemies.
“The Zimbabwean government, which is currently engaged in the torture, incarceration, sexual assault and victimisation of protesters has no moral authority or standing to claim to speak on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe. This government, which is compensating land thieves for land which was acquired through a revolutionary process has declared the people of Zimbabwe as enemies, through the deployment of the military to suppress genuine protest.
“The EFF does not owe Zanu-PF any allegiance, and we have now identified them as part of long line of oppressive regimes and failing liberation movements which no longer have a vision for the continent,” said the EFF in a statement.
In response, the Embassy accused the “pretentious” EFF of attempting to rewrite history by distancing late Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe from the agreement to compensate white farmers.
“We cannot remain silent in the face of the EFF’s pretentiousness to know more about the history and politics of Zimbabwe than the Zimbabweans themselves. Even more, the EFF has the audacity to dare teach Zimbabweans, even our head of state about the land question in our country.
“The signing of this global compensation agreement is a significant step in the coming together of Zimbabweans in efforts to bring to finality a long outstanding, highly emotive and divisive issue. This agreement should be welcomed by those who genuinely wish Zimbabwe well.
“It is our expectation that the EFF and others who may wish to comment on the land issues in Zimbabwe do so from an informed, objective and constructive standpoint that respects the people of Zimbabwe’s struggles and sacrifices for their land and contributes to the unity and progress of the country,” said the Embassy.
Additional reporting, AFP