Zimbabwe calls US envoy ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Zimbabwe’s ruling African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has called the US ambassador to the country a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests.

Patrick Chinamasa, a spokesman for ZANU-PF, told reporters on Monday that Ambassador Brian Nichols was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

“He (Nichols) continues to interact in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so if he continues engaging in acts of mobilizing and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training fighters, our leadership won’t hesitate to offer him marching orders,” Chinamasa said, without providing evidence.

“Diplomats shouldn’t behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols may be a thug.”The US embassy in Harare didn’t immediately answer Chinamasa’s comments.

Political tensions are rising fast within the southern African country after activists involved demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst depression in additional than a decade.

In the past week, Minister of data Monica Mutsvangwa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sibusiso Moyo has accused Western countries of sponsoring Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent journalist known for exposing alleged government corruption, and Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician behind the planned protests.

They have been detained for every week on allegations of organizing the planned protests. The police have said they’re trying to find several other activists and politicians accused of mobilizing protests.

Chinamasa on Monday urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and therefore the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price rise.

“No, this point no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said.

More than six people were killed following a military clampdown on protests within the aftermath of Mnangagwa’s election in 2018, while a minimum of three people died last year when violent protests broke out following the government’s decision to extend fuel prices.

Organizers say this week’s protests are going to be peaceful.

In recent weeks, the US, Britain, European Union embassies, and therefore the United Nations have all criticized Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.

Relations between Zimbabwe and therefore the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Robert Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Mnangagwa himself remains under US sanctions for alleged abuses, and relations between Zimbabwe and therefore the West now echo the times of Mugabe, when Western ambassadors were routinely threatened with expulsion.

Last month, the govt summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest within the US following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in police custody, to interfere in US affairs.

Source: aljazeera

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