News ID: 219521
Published: 0257 GMT August 07, 2018

Zimbabwe opposition fears growing post-election crackdown

Zimbabwe opposition fears growing post-election crackdown
Movement For Democratic Change supporters arrested last week for violent protests arrive for bail application at the Harare Magistrates courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 7, 2018.

Zimbabwe authorities are abducting opposition activists and launching court cases to suppress protests, the opposition MDC party said, despite the president's boast of introducing new freedoms to criticize his government.

Since the knife-edge election result was declared early Friday, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say they have been the target of a brutal crackdown that exposes President Emmerson Mnangagwa's claims to respect rights and halt repression, AFP reported.

Mnangagwa has blamed the MDC for fomenting post-vote unrest, but he has also vowed to usher in a more open Zimbabwe than under Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule that ended last year.

Last week, six people died after troops in the capital Harare opened fire at protests against alleged election fraud, sparking an international outcry and raising grim memories of the Mugabe era.

"We know the security forces are looking for 4,000 individuals," opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa's spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda told AFP, citing state media reports.

"They are intimidating people. At their houses they're going with accusations of serious crimes and they're taking people without telling anyone – and these people can't be found in police stations.

"They're trying to incapacitate the opposition, so that there will be no resistance or civil action against the fake election results."

The MDC, which says it won the election and plans a legal challenge, has also alleged that elderly people related to activists have been attacked and that security forces have been acting with impunity with some victims reportedly beaten up.

On Monday, 27 members of the MDC opposition appeared in court on violence charges after the protests against alleged cheating by Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party in the election.

Police armed with assault rifles were on duty in the court precinct, with a police truck stationed outside.

Prosecutors opposed bail, saying the accused – 19 men and eight women – were "linked" to the deaths of the six people when the army opened fire at the opposition demonstration.

Amnesty International said last week more than 60 people had been "arbitrarily arrested" in a post-election clampdown on the opposition.

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