BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/NHAU MANGIRAZI
Security forces for the third day running yesterday blocked people from entering business districts in major cities as authorities feared an uprising over corruption and misgovernance.
Tensions has been high since the eve of the protests that were scheduled for Friday, but were thwarted by heavily armed soldiers and police officers deployed throughout the country.
Armed soldiers and police officers manning a litany of checkpoints in both Harare and Bulawayo prevented people from entering CBDs yesterday as they did on Thursday and Friday.
Businesses that had opened for the day were forced to close prematurely by the security forces.
In Karoi’s Chikangwe and Chiedza high-density areas, armed soldiers and police made rounds in army trucks from early morning before camping at Chikangwe bus terminus.
In Marondera, soldiers were moving around suburbs, some manning roadblocks on roads going into the CBD and ordered people to go back home.
In Domboshava, soldiers and police chased people at Mungate shopping centre and managed to round up 10 people, who were arrested.
Most people who were arrested on July 31 for participating in protests appeared in different courts countrywide.
At Harare magistrates court MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, author Tsitsi Dangarembga and four others who were arrested during protests against corruption were granted $5 000 bail each.
Mahere, Dangarembga, Julie Barnes, Simon Drury, Tinashe Murapata and Tinashe Muswe, who protested at different places appeared before Harare magistrate Ngoni Nduna.
They were represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights members Alec Muchadehama, Chris Mhike and Paidamoyo Saurombe.
Allegations against them are that they participated in a demonstration along Alpes Road and The Chase in Mt Pleasant.
It is alleged the accused were carrying placards inscribed, “Free Zimbabwe”, “#freeMDCtrio”, “#stopabductions” and “#handsoffconstitution”.
They are also charged with contravening sections of the public health (Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment) national lockdown order Statutory Instrument 77 for unnecessary movement during the lockdown without exemption.
In Bulawayo, the High Court yesterday ordered the officer in charge of CID law and order section and the officer commanding police in the city to produce Tawanda Muchehiwa within 72 hours.
Muchehiwa was abducted on Thursday by suspected state security agents, who ransacked his cousin and ZimLive editor Mduduzi Mathuthu’s home.
The High Court also declared his detention illegal.
Several activists, who were arrested for participating in protests in Bulawayo also appeared in different courts.
In Masvingo, MDC Alliance organising secretary and councillor Godfrey Kurauone will spend the weekend in remand after a Masvingo magistrate postponed his bail hearing to tomorrow.
Kurauone was arrested on Friday after he went to report to the law and order section as part of his bail conditions on another matter.
He is now facing two new charges of criminal nuisance after circulating a video in which people were denouncing President Emmerson Mnangagwa and burning tyres.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Ngo Forum, a coalition of 20 organisations working on human rights issues throughout the country, recorded at least 40 rights violations related to the protests between July 20 and July 31.
In a report released yesterday, the Forum observed that since the call by opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume for the protests in early July, the state had been responding with a heavy-handed approach.
It was noticed that several opposition supporters, human rights defenders and labour leaders had been continuously persecuted by state security agents.
The arrest of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who is remanded in custody, is part of the 40 human rights violations recorded.
The Forum recorded 18 arrests by the State security agents, three attacks on journalists in Harare and Bulawayo, 11 assaults and torture by soldiers, police and Zanu PF youths in Harare, Gokwe, Hopley and Retreat farms.
The Forum also recorded eight abductions in Bulawayo, Marondera, Hopley and Chegutu as well as six raids in Chitungwiza, Bulawayo and Harare.