- The veteran writer was released on a bail of $65 (€55).
- Dangarembga called for the release of opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of the small Transform Zimbabwe party, and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
- Zimbabwe has been plagued by undemocratic governance and economic catastrophe for more than 20 years.
Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga was released on bail today, a day after being detained in the country’s capital, Harare, during a demonstration against corruption. The 61 year-old Dangarembga was accused by the Zimbabwean authorities of inciting violence and violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Specifically, in the case of Dangarembga, that included a limitation on large gatherings. The veteran writer was released on a bail of $65 (€55). Upon her release, Dangarembga called for the release of opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, leader of the small Transform Zimbabwe party, and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.
The two remain in prison, accused of “public incitement to violence,” and had called for Friday’s demonstration against corruption and the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. Ngarivhume and Chin’ono were arrested on 20 July, and the Zimbabwean authorities refused to release them on bail on 23 and 24 of the same month.
Hopewell Chin’ono considers that he is on trial for exposing corruption, including contracts for the purchase of drugs and protective materials against COVID-19, in a scandal that led to the arrest and subsequent dismissal of the Zimbabwean Minister of Health.
“I’m OK, I’m fine . . . Basically, this means journalism has been criminalized. The struggle against corruption should continue. People should not stop, they should carry on,” said Chin’ono on 24 July , after being brought to court.
On Friday, just like Tsitsi Dangarembga, Fadzayi Mahere, the spokesman for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was also arrested for peacefully demonstrating against corruption. Mahere, and 11 others arrested on Friday were also freed on Saturday.
They were all ordered to report back in court on September 18. Mahere had earlier posted photos on Facebook holding placards denouncing corruption. In her message, Mahere said:
“Embarked on a socially distanced peaceful protest in our community this morning. It’s important to speak out and take a stand in accordance with the Constitution, Covid19 regulations & morality.
“We all wore masks during the protest. We all observed social distancing. It was completely peaceful. Section 59 of the Constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate and present petitions peacefully. We said we would support this citizen-driven action & we kept our word.
“We want a free Zimbabwe.”
In the early 2000s, the expulsion of white farmers from their lands in Zimbabwe resulted in a crisis that led to the fall of the currency, hyperinflation, and an unemployment rate of over 90%. As it was unable to control the devaluation, in 2009, the regime of the then-President Robert Mugabe abandoned its currency and adopted the US dollar.
In 2016, the Government tried to remedy the situation with the introduction of “bond notes,” bonds that would have a value similar to the US dollar, but the lack of confidence of economic operators led to their rapid devaluation.
Last year, the executive, now led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, adopted the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar, the value of which continued to fall against the US dollar.
Situated in the Southern part of the Africa continent, Zimbabwe is an undemocratic sub-saharan country well known for its government’s autocratic tendencies and intolerance, in as far as criticism of the regime is concerned. Critics have on several occasions been arrested, jailed, and tortured, and in some extreme instances, killed.