Eccentric South African opposition leader, Julius Malema yesterday torched a diplomatic storm with Zimbabwe after he suggested that the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria must be shut down until the government respects human rights.
Zimbabwe has been receiving a lot of goodwill from across the world with high profile people standing with the country in the wake of gross human rights abuses by the government on the opposition and civil society members.
More than a dozen people were arrested and tortured at the hands of state agents in connection with last week’s demonstration which was suppressed by the security forces.
Those arrested include renowned novelist Tsitsi Dangarembgwa, MDC A Spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere and journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu, whose nephew was abducted found four days later with serious injuries.
Opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume and journalist Hopewell Chin’ono were also arrested prior to the demonstration, a move which was received with widespread condemnation.
The latest crackdown on opposition and critics of the government have raised ire with celebrities and sports personalities across the world standing with the country on social media using the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag, which as of yesterday was trending in most parts of the world.
Malema who leads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called for the closure of the Zimbabwean embassy in that country saying Zimbabwean officials must not be allowed to address anyone.
“We call for the removal of the Zimbabwean Embassy in SA until they restore the human rights in that country. Failure to do so, we will prevent any official from the Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in SA until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans,” he said Monday night.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday morning shot back at the growing voices for his government to respect human rights alleging that in fact, it was him who is under attack from “dark forces, in and outside Zimbabwe, who want to destabilize his administration.
“My administration has faced many hurdles and attacks since its inauguration and these include the divisive politics of some opposition elements, the illegal economic sanctions, cyclones, drought and most recently, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
He stated that other elements include local currency manipulation and detractors who fear that his government will succeed.
“All this was meant to undermine our projected growth and stability as a result, we have had to constantly recalibrate our compass to ensure that we remain on course and that the standard of life for the majority of our society gets better,” Mnangagwa said.
Malema’s remarks did not sit well with Norton Member of Parliament and former Zanu-PF Central Committee member, Temba Mliswa who shot back saying Zimbabwe needs to liberate itself.
“With all due respect, you should allow us to be our own liberators. You’ve enough on your plate dealing with your own land inequality issues. Such comments expose the proximity you’ve with certain estranged Zimbabweans and smacks of an ulterior agenda. Let them fight their own battles,” he said.
Government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana posted on Twitter saying sanctions were the real challenge for Zimbabweans, not the government.
“Sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe have killed many. They have unintended consequences. We need every voice to be heard because #ZimbabweanLivesMatter,” he cheekily posted.
There growing tension in Zimbabwe with the general populace feeling the pinch of economic decay and political instability.
Mnangagwa’s party, Zanu-PF is deeply divided which has forced the President to channel hos energy towards power retention,
The health system has been paralysed in the wake of COVID-19 as the government has neglected other facets of the sector to focus on fighting the pandemic which to date has claimed 80 lives in the country.