Diplomats in Zimbabwe warn against using COVID-19 to restrict freedoms




Harare – The foreign missions of the U.S. , Germany and other countries in Zimbabwe have urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government not to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to stifle civil rights.

“Covid-19 must not be used as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms” said the joint statement published by the diplomatic missions on Friday.

(Such as Freedom of the press, of opinion, of expression, and of assembly), are all universally recognized human rights and are guaranteed by the Zimbabwean constitution,”

“The government also has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights,” the statement continued.

The statement by the heads of mission of Germany, Poland, Britain, the U.S. , Canada, Norway and the Netherlands comes two years after Mnangagwa’s inauguration, a hopeful occasion for many Zimbabweans after the ousting of reviled long-time leader Robert Mugabe.

However, many critics said “Mnangagwa has proven as bad as his predecessor”, as there has been a recent clampdown on human rights and free expression in the country with the arrests of journalists and opposition members.

Tafadzwa Mugwadi, spokesman for the ruling Zanu PF party, dismissed the statement as “rubbish.”

“It’s just a bunch of nonsense, Absolute rubbish.

If it is not for sanctions by those countries Zimbabwe would be flourishing,” he said.

Aside from concerns over rights issues, Zimbabwe is experiencing severe inflation despite promises by Mnangagwa when he came to power that he would prop up the ailing economy.

(dpa/NAN)

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