The COVID-19 pandemic has largely helped government in perpetuating human rights abuses under the cover of enforcing lockdown regulations, civil society organisations have lamented.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of over 80 civic society and human rights groups made the remarks in commemoration of International Day of Democracy, celebrated on 15 September every year to promote and uphold principles of democracy.
“We have noted that the COVID 19 pandemic has largely aided efforts by the government to perpetrate human rights abuses under the cover of enforcing COVID 19 regulations”, the coalition said.
The grouping bemoaned the continued crushing of citizens’fundamental rights and freedoms including the right to peaceful protests, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
On Monday, nine Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) members were arrested for protesting against the incarceration of the union’s president Takudzwa Ngadziore, who was locked up for demonstrating at the Impala Car Rentals offices in Harare.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition expressed deep concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country since the 2017 military coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe.
“Cases of arrests of journalists from the private media have also been witnessed in Zimbabwe and this is an attempt to muzzle the press and thwart dissenting voices,” the coalition noted.
Internationally-acclaimed journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is one of the journalists arrested for doing his work which included exposing corruption in the handling of COVID-19 funds by the government.
Chin’ono who was arrested in July together with opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume was charged with inciting public violence and spent in excess of 40 days at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, before he was released earlier this month on bail.