Government repression in the wake of disputed election results has intensified following the army’s indiscriminate use of live ammunition which killed at least 6 protestors in the capital Harare on August 1. Amnesty International has denounced “a vicious campaign of torture, intimidation and suppression of dissenting voices.”
“The veneer of respect for human rights and democratic rule that President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed is now clearly gone,” said Amnesty. No one should be surprised. ZANU-PF has been building its formidable repressive apparatus for decades, beginning with the army’s systematic murder of thousands of Ndebele citizens in the 1980s. Vote-rigging and mass repression expanded in the campaign to simultaneously co-opt and annihilate the opposition MDC during the farcical period of coalition government from 2009-2013. President Mnangagwa – known as ‘the crocodile’ – comes out of the security apparatus. The general who engineered the ouster of President Robert Mugabe last November fired 16,000 striking nurses this April in his current role as Vice President.
Mnangagwa has declared Zimbabwe “open for business” in a bid to resuscitate an economy devastated by years of plunder and corruption. The workers and citizens of Zimbabwe may soon face government repression in alliance with a new austerity program funded by the international lending institutions. Lender demands for further reductions in public expenditure in a country with 90% unemployment can only be imposed by force. In conjunction with deep factional divisions inside the party-army-security complex, the situation is explosive.
The Harare offices of the national trade union center ZCTU, one of the original anchors of the MDC, came under army fire on August 1. The unions will remain under pressure. Active solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe is more urgent than ever.