Authorities arrest Booker Prize nominee in Zimbabwe

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Award-winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga, a nominee for this year’s Booker Prize, has been arrested in the country’s capital, Harare, during an anti-government protest.

Dangarembga, 61, and another protester were bundled into a police lorry while carrying placards.

The government has warned that participation in Friday’s demonstration is regarded as insurrection.

Police and soldiers are patrolling cities where streets are mainly empty.

Opposition call for protests
Opposition parties and civil society organisations had called for protests against alleged government corruption and a deepening economic crisis with inflation running at more than 700%.

But President Emmerson Mnangagwa has accused the opposition of exploiting the country’s economic challenges to topple his government.

An opposition politician who called for the demonstration is in detention, arrested last week and charged with inciting violence.

He remains behind bars, along with prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who was detained at the same time.

In June Chin’ono had exposed an alleged multi-million dollar scandal involving Coronavirus supplies – revelations which led to the sacking of the health minister.

Dangarembga was carrying placards calling for reforms and for the release of Chin’ono.

Protest banned
The authorities say that the demonstration is not allowed because of Coronavirus restrictions.

Security forces have intensified their patrols and streets are deserted despite assurances by government that the public should go about their normal business without fear.

The main opposition Movement Democratic Change MDC party says several of its supporters, including a party official, have been detained.

On Thursday, Dangarembga had said demonstrating against the government was “necessary” given the situation in the country.

“Every sector is disintegrating; health, education, the economy. I am concerned for my safety. It would be naïve not to be because we have a very repressive regime and we know that they will most likely be deployed against the people”.

“This is one of the grievances that the people have, that the security forces, the security service are often deployed against the people, instead of being deployed for the protection of the people”, she said.

Tsitsi Dangarembga
The writer and film director was born in Mutoko town in the north-east of the country when it was under white-minority rule.

At the age of two she moved with her parents to the UK, returning to her homeland in 1980 just before Zimbabwe became independent.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

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