Western embassies pressure govt over January 2019 army killings as no action on 1 August 2018 murders linked to army

January 21, 2021

Brenna Matendere

Several embassies—among them the United States, European Union and United Kingdom emissaries in Harare—have issued statements condemning delays in bringing to book, military-linked perpetrators of killings of protesters that took place in January 2019.

In January 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a hike of fuel prices by 150 percent and citizens took to the streets to protest the increase.

During the protests held in Harare, several people were killed by the army while others suffered gunshot wounds as the state security agents tried to quell the disturbances.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) put the protest fatalities at 17.

The association also said eight women were raped when police launched manhunts for protesters in the populous south-western and eastern residential suburbs.

On January 20 this week, the US, EU, and UK issued statements raising concerns over delays in bringing to book, the security details who reportedly killed the victims.

“When will Zimbabwe investigate, prosecute, and convict government security forces accused of rape, torture, and killing civilians in January 2019? Two years is too long to seek justice, answers, accountability,” the US embassy said.

Said the EU: “Two years on, investigations are lacking and impunity continues to prevail on human rights violations perpetrated in Zimbabwe in January 2019”.

The UK also issued a statement condemning the delay to prosecute the offenders.

“A crackdown by security forces against protests in January 2019 resulted in the deaths of 17 Zimbabweans. Two years on, we continue to call for accountability and on the government to enact political and economic reforms that will benefit all Zimbabweans.”

Nick Mangwana, the information ministry permanent secretary, however, castigated the embassies through a tweet. He described the statements as an onslaught on Zimbabwe.

“We challenge them to name/list the 17 people they claim were killed by security forces in January 2019,” he said.

Mangwana insisted no one was killed or raped.

“It’s amoral to cook up figures in own heads and start peddling them as fact,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) organised the January 2019 fuel hike protests and confirmed 17 people had been killed during the protests.

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