2011-03-05 Mugabe issues a 'major clampdown'

Image Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have stepped up the customary rampage over human rights in Zimbabwe. Amnesty has issued an alert stating that with over 60 currently held in detention and many allegedly tortured, activists are facing a major clampdown.

Previously on WL Central we reported on the arrest, imprisonment, and torture for some, of Munyaradzi Gwisai, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) general coordinator, and 45 others on February 19. They were charged on the 23rd with treason, which carries the death penalty, or subverting a constitutionally elected government, for which the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment, for watching a video of the uprising in Egypt. More activists have been arrested in Bulawayo and Manicaland province.

SW Radio Africa reports a man in Bulawayo was arrested over a Facebook comment he posted on February 13. Vikas Mavhudzi of Old Magwegwe, is being charged with “subverting a constitutional government” after posting a message on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai: “I am overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey.” He was arrested on February 24th and accused of “advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means”. He has been refused bail and was remanded in custody till March 9th.

Meanwhile there are signs that the Mugabe regime intends to increase its ability to spy on innocent civilians. As we reported on SW Radio Africa this week, the government is allegedly moving at a ‘very fast pace’ with the construction of a secret electronic eavesdropping complex just outside Harare. A trusted source said that the Chinese, who are building the complex, have a system that enables most security agencies to ‘spy at will’ on emails, website visits, social networking sessions, and telephone calls made over the internet on a massive scale.

Mugabe has also been fighting back against sanctions on the country, threatening this week to boycott western products and seize companies from countries that have imposed sanctions against him.

The Zimbabwe Mail reports the "shaky coalition government clashed in furious scenes on Tuesday. Indications are that the contentious issues such as targeted sanctions, the media, external radio stations, hate speech, the rule of law, land audit and so on are unlikely to be resolved at the next Cabinet meeting as planned." Zimbabwe will hold elections this year or next in the hope of replacing the current government. "Human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said in Johannesburg Friday that Mugabe and his party – both out of favour with the electorate due to their failed governance during the past three decades, had once again resorted to violence to try and coerce Zimbabweans into voting them back into power."

Rumours about the 87 year old president's health were widely reported this week, as he underwent medical examinations while on holiday in Malaysia. The rumours have been a frequent occurrence, prompting Mugabe to state last September, "I don't know how many times I die, but nobody has ever talked about my resurrection. I suppose they don't want to, because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and that would be quite divine an achievement for an individual who is not divine. Jesus died once, and was resurrected only once, and poor Mugabe several times. My time will come, but for now, no." His party has denied the rumours again, calling them "naked lies".

Other rumours this week report commando troops from Zimbabwe being flown in to aid Gaddafi forces in Libya, and the possibility of Gaddafi escaping to Zimbabwe if he is run out of Libya.