The ruling party of Zimbabwe has threatened the US ambassador with expulsion in the midst of a fierce attack on the opposition and union activists ahead of planned anti-corruption demonstrations on Friday.
Zanu-PF officials called Ambassador Brian Nicholls a “thug” who was spreading unrest by funding protest organizers.
The allegation came after police published a “wanted list” of 14 prominent critics of the government, including trade unionist Peter Mutasa, opposition legislator Ayub Sikhla and two former youth leaders of the ruling Jhanu-PF party.
Zanu-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa said Nichols and a “mob of goons” should coordinate violence and training rebellions and prevent a mess of money. Our leadership will not hesitate to give him a marching order. “
“Diplomats shouldn’t behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug,” Chinmasa said.
Following the criticism of the US ambassador and other Western powers over the arrest of last week’s opposition politician Jacob Narjeevum and journalist Hopewell Chinono, who have been outspoken critics of corruption in the regime of President Aiman Mnangagwa.
Chinono expressed concern over recently published documents that powerful individuals in Zimbabwe were profiting from multimillion-dollar deals for the supplies needed to fight the coronovirus epidemic.
The 49-year-old journalist is now jailed in connection with inciting public violence by promoting planned protests.
Both Chinono and Narjehume, who face similar charges, deny any wrongdoing and can face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
The arrests were also criticized by UN and campaign groups such as Amnesty International.
The Minister of Information, Monica Mutswangwa, said that over the weekend the two men, along with the US and unnamed powers, demanded the overthrow of the Zimbabwean government.
Similar charges were systematically levied for the regime of former dictator Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a military takeover in 2017.
The fall of Mugabe gave rise to a fleeting hope of reform and a possible diplomatic resettlement for the former British colony. Without better relations with the US, a dire need for a highly indebted state is less hopeful of economic bailout.
As the economic situation in Zimbabwe has worsened in recent months, repression has increased, and the government has had a series of kidnappings. Many detainees were beaten, humiliated or threatened and many were asked not to criticize the government.
Millions of people in Zimbabwe face a severe shortage of basic foods. The country is also facing a dangerous health crisis with an increase in Kovid-19 cases.
This has made the government particularly sensitive to allegations of corruption.
Chinamsa also released that government supporters were asked to “use any necessary means” when there was chaos during the planned protests on Friday.
“Don’t ask anyone’s permission, it’s your constitutional and legal right. Don’t be a duck … calling us. No, not this time, use any means at your disposal to protect yourself. Chinamasa Said, we are reminding our people that self-defense is a right especially when your safety is under threat from these violent protesters.
Despite the country’s problems, Zimbabwe’s divided opposition is yet to mobilize a large-scale protest movement.
Fadzai Mehre, spokesman for the main opposition party of the Movement for Democratic Change, told the guardian that the publication of the wanted list by the police ahead of the protests was “an attempt to intimidate and intimidate citizens who have expressed their intention to perform peacefully”.
The “clampdown” is the latest in a series of attacks by the state in an attempt to intimidate the main opposition, distracting attention from the national crisis and Mr. Mnangagwa’s governance failure by shrinking the democratic space. The state is at war with its citizens. “
Health minister Obadiah Moyo was accused last month of allegedly awarding a $ 60m (£ 47m) contract to a company that had sold Kovid-19 supplies.