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Diplomats in Zimbabwe warn against using virus to restrict freedoms



The Foreign Missions of the United States, Germany and other countries in Zimbabwe on Friday told President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government not to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to stifle civil rights.

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“Covid-19 must not be used as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms. Freedom of the press, opinion, expression and of assembly are all universally-recognised human rights and guaranteed by the Zimbabwean constitution.

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“The government also has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating human rights,” the missions said.

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The positions of Germany, Poland, Britain, the United States, Canada, Norway and the Netherlands come two years after Mnangagwa’s inauguration, a hopeful occasion for many Zimbabweans after the ousting of reviled long-time leader Robert Mugabe.

However, many critics said Mnangagwa had proven as bad as his predecessor as there had been a recent clampdown on human rights and free expression in the country with the arrests of journalists and opposition members.

Meanwhile, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, spokesman for the ruling Zanu PF party, dismissed their positions as rubbish.

“It’s just a bunch of nonsense. Absolute rubbish. If it is not for sanctions by those countries Zimbabwe would be flourishing,” Mugwadi said.

Aside from concerns over rights issues, Zimbabwe is experiencing severe inflation, in spite of promises by Mnangagwa when he came to power that he would prop up the ailing economy.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Yahaya Isah

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