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Back to square one

Our country has been trending internationally. Sadly, and not for the first time, it’s for the wrong reasons.

The eyes of the world zoomed in on Zim this week following the arrest of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume ahead of the planned July 31 anti-government protests.

The two are accused of inciting public violence through their Twitter messages.

The regime, in its wisdom – or lack of – decided to arrest these two, much to the dismay of many people in the country and beyond borders judging from the reactions following their incarceration.

While it has been evident that the regime is baying for Chin’ono’s blood for exposing the multimillion Dollar Covid-19 supplies scandal that sucked in the first family, it is also clear that there is a message being sent to the masses.

Newspaper publisher, Trevor Ncube aptly summed it up in his tweet this Tuesday where he wrote, “The arrest and detention of Hopewell Chin’ono is repugnant. It is the thing that tinpot dictatorships scared of peaceful protests resort to. Hopewell’s arrest is designed to send a chilling effect on citizens exercising their constitutional right.”

Scared that fed-up citizens will take to the streets on July 31, the Emmerson Mnangagwa led government had to make sure that the planned march flops by all means hence they arrested those most vocal about it.

However, this has not stopped social media users from speaking out against these dictatorship tendencies with some insisting that the demonstrations will go ahead as planned.

In reality though, following the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed this week, the anti-government protests have been dealt a heavy blow.

On Tuesday, President Mnangagwa announced new Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which were viewed by many, not as measures to curb the spread of the virus but means to stop people from taking part in any demonstrations.

The President imposed a 6pm-6am curfew while the unemployed are expected to stay at home unless going to the hospital, shops or fetching water.

Businesses have since gone back to operating from 8am to 3pm and only the licensed informal sector will be allowed to operate.

What is dubious about these measures is that they are imposed with no plans in place to intensify testing and contact tracing so as to minimise the spread of the virus.

The fact that he did not address these issues or even bother to equip long-suffering heath care workers raises eyebrows about the motive of this new lockdown, which comes barely a week before the planned July 31 demonstrations.

Meanwhile, as at July 21, Zimbabwe had 1, 820 confirmed cases including 488 recoveries and 26 deaths.

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