The award-winning Zimbabwean writer, Tsetsi Dangrembega, who is nominated for this year’s Booker Prize, has been arrested in Harare, the country’s capital, during the government’s protests.
The 61-year-old Dangrembega and another guard were tied in a police lorry carrying placards.
The government has warned that participation in Friday’s demonstration would be considered a rebellion.
Police and soldiers are patrolling in cities where roads are mainly empty.
Opposition parties and civil society organizations had called for protests against alleged government corruption and deepening the economic crisis with inflation of over 700%.
But President Emerson Mnangagwa has accused the opposition of exploiting the country’s economic challenges to topple his government.
An anti-politician who called for demonstrations, detained, was arrested last week and charged with inciting violence.
He remains behind bars with prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chinono, who was detained at the same time.
In June Chinono exposed an alleged multi-million dollar scandal involving coronavirus supplies – revelations that led to the dismissal of the health minister.
Why is the protest banned?
Officials say the demonstration is not allowed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Security forces have intensified their patrolling and the streets are deserted despite assurances by the government that the public should go about their normal business without any fear, reports Shingai Nyoka of the BBC in Harare,
The Kovid-19 outposts, she says, mean that only essential service personnel are allowed in the city center.
Most people have chosen to stay home – and some who have gone out to perform have faced arrest.
The main opposition movement Democratic Change (MDC) party says that many of its supporters including a party official have been detained.
A photographer with the AFP news agency reports that police tied Dungrembaga and another guard to a lorry full of police armed with AK-47 rifles and riot gear.
Dangrembaga was carrying placards calling for reforms and for the release of Chinono, the agency says.
The author later tweeted that they were being held at the Bourdale police station, later adding: “Cannot tweet for a while.”
On Thursday, Dangrembega told the BBC that demonstrating against the government was “necessary” given the situation in the country.
“Every sector is disintegrating. Health, education, economy. I am concerned for my safety. It will not be for the naïve as we have a very oppressive regime and we know that they will be most deployed against the people.” said.
“This is one of the complaints that security forces, the security service, are often deployed against people, rather than being deployed to protect people.”
Who is Tsitsi Dangrembega?
The writer and film director was born in the town of Mutoko in the north-east of the country, when it was under white-minority rule.
At the age of two, she moved to the UK with her parents, returning to her homeland in 1980, just before Zimbabwe became independent.
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Her debut novel Nervous Conditions won the African part of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989.
Other award-winning credits include Neria, Zimbabwe’s most successful film released in 1993.
His latest book, This Mournable Body, is on the long list of the Booker Prize, which was unveiled earlier this week.
The Booker Prize website states that it is a sequel to Nervous Conditions and “shows the hope and potential of a young girl and leads a journey to a runaway nation where our hopes of life are gone.”