In Zimbabwe, three women activists with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance party who were detained following protests two weeks ago are back in custody pending a final bail ruling on Thursday.
The women, including MDC-Alliance MP Joanah Mamombe, above, were charged earlier this week in connection with the May 13 anti-poverty and hunger protests against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration.
Their case has drawn international attention because Mamombe and her counterparts went missing for several days, and upon their release in Bindura said they were tortured while in custody of Zimbabwe’s national police.
“Mamombe, Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova are victims of police brutality, sexual assault and enforced disappearance. Before charging them for allegedly breaking the (COVID-19) lockdown rules, authorities must investigate the crimes against them,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“The charges against these three women are a travesty and ploy to intimidate the opposition and send a chilling message that anyone who challenges the government is putting themselves at risk.”
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) organization also called for accountability, noting that no arrests have been made to date on the enforced disappearance, torture and degrading treatment the women say they endured. Instead, they stand accused of promoting public violence and breaching the peace.
While MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and the opposition party affiliates have long been under fire, they say Mnangagwa has targeted MDC members during the COVID-19 response. ZLHR continues to track arrests of labor leaders, journalists, opposition members and protesters.
Image: Joanah Mamombe file