Harare, (New Ziana) – Police on Monday arrested two political activists for allegedly inciting the public to engage in violence.
The two, Jacob Ngarivhume of an obscure outfit named Transform Zimbabwe, and journalist-turned political activist Hopewell Chin’ono, are thought to be at the centre of opposition plans to hold anti-government protests at the end of this month, in contravention of the country’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Zimbabwe, like all countries around the world, is in lockdown to try to limit the spread of the pandemic which has killed hundreds of thousands and infected millions globally.
In Zimbabwe, confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been rising sharply lately, averaging about 100 a day.
Total cases in the country were 1 713 as of Monday, with 26 deaths.
In view of the rising cases of the pandemic, the government has been imploring people to increase their vigilance against the pandemic, and strictly abide by the lockdown measures.
These include a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people, social distancing and sanitizing at all times.
But the opposition, under the guise of protesting against hardships in the country, plans to hold month end anti-government marches in violation of the Covid-19 precautions.
Ngarivhume has been widely quoted in the media in recent weeks threatening the protests on July 31with or without government permission.
Chin’ono had also been allegedly linked to the planned protests.
Government had already indicated it would not sanction the marches in view of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Police national spokesman Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrest of the two, saying this was in connection with their alleged public incitement to engage in violence.
Often in the past, opposition-led protests ended in bloodshed, and widespread looting and destruction of property.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe and Hopewell Chin’ono have been arrested in connection with allegations of contravening section 187 (1) (a) as read with section (37) (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Cordification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, incitement to participate in public violence, “Nyathi said.
He said the two were in police custody, and would appear in court soon.
Analysts have said the protests, contrary to claims, were nothing more than an attempt by the opposition to draw attention away from the debilitating internal leadership fights engulfing some of them.
It was also an attempt, they said, to draw the attention of the leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community at their scheduled summit next month.