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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Southern Africa’s development bloc, SADC, is facing increasing calls to reprimand Zimbabwe for alleged rights abuse.

The calls, especially on social media, increased on Monday with a hashtag #Zimbabwenlivesmatter attracting commentary from the region’s influential leaders.

Several top opposition leaders, musicians and actors in South Africa and general citizens of SADC member countries have flooded Twitter to voice their concerns over the stifling of opposition voices in Zimbabwe and flagrant violation of human rights.

In South Africa, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema made the most stringent call, urging the closure of Zimbabwe’s embassy in South Africa, which would mean cutting diplomatic ties between the two countries.

In a tweet, Malema said: “We call for the removal of the Zimbabwean Embassy in SA until they restore the human rights in that country.

“Failure to do so, we will prevent any official from the Zimbabwean government from participating in any gathering in SA until they respect ordinary Zimbabweans.”

The calls come against a clampdown on opposition members, journalists and civic society activists by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government following planned anti-corruption protests last Friday.

United Kingdom-based businesswoman Carole Nyakudya said there had been systematic political abuse over a very long period.

“Abductions are very common in the nation of Zimbabwe and stories of rape. There was some glimmer of hope in 2017 where we all thought that there is going to be a different way that the nation would be run but that hope is slowly withering away.

“I think that people are coming to a point where we’re saying enough is enough, we just want to be able to have the right to live freely in our own country and be able to access basic human rights without the fear of abuse, without the fear of being taken at night, without the fear of our relatives and our families being killed, without the fear of hospitals, you know, dying if you become unwell.

“We just want a right to live and a right to be in this world, a right to leaders that are concerned about us as citizens. So, we have heard enough, as Zimbabweans, and all we ask is a right to be able to live and to be heard. We are Zimbabweans and Zimbabwean lives matter,” Nyakudya said.

Former Democratic Alliance leader, Mmusi Maimane tweeted two petitions, “Restore Freedom of Speech: Release Zimbabwean Anti Government Protesters” and “Zimbabwe Army, Police & State Security Agents Must Stop Obeying Unconstitutional Orders” calling on people all over the world to support them.

In two different tweets Maimane calls out United states-based actress, Lupita Nyongo and Trevor Noah to bring global attention to the human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe.

Former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also tweeted: “Fadzayi, Tsitsi, Julie, Terrence, Loveridge, and all the others in Zimbabwe’s protest may God give you strength and courage in your pursuit of freedom. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.”

Ordinary Zimbabweans have also turned to Malawian President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera urging him to bring the human rights situation to the attention of other SADC leaders.

President Chakwera, a former cleric, picked up the cue, Tweeting on Tuesday a subtle criticism of the SADC bloc in defence of Zimbabeans.

“I would like to express my deep concern to the people of Zimbabwe, you deserve to be listened to #ZimbabweanLivesMatter #FreeZimbabwe #Zimbabwe,” he tweeted.

“We need a reformed SADC, where the leaders can call a spade a spade. Enough with this costly brotherhood! #ZimbabweLivesMatter #FreeZimbabwe.”

Chakwera is seen as a beacon of hope following his successful campaign that saw him beat incumbent Peter Muthariki in June in a rerun election that had been ordered by the Constitutional Court after nullification of last year’s vote.

A person who identified himself as Simba made a stark plea to Chakwera posting: “Mr President please talk to your counterparts in SADC and deal with @edmnangagwa and Zimbabwe situation. We need your assistance Mr President. We are being oppressed in Zimbabwe … and the silence of the leaders is deafening”.

South Africa-based Zimbabwean artiste, Buffalo Soul Jah real name (Thabani Ndlovu) has also been canvassing several singers to be part of song calling for the respect of human rights in Zimbabwe and musicians he has tagged include Amercian stars, Beyonce, Rihanna, Akon, Jidenaa, reggae artist, Sean Paul, Nigerians Pato Ranking and Davido and Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz.

A panicky Zanu PF Government used intimidation and threats of violence by security forces to quell the 31 July anti-corruption protest which they however claimed were intended to remove the Government.

The intimidation began with the arrest of highly respected journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, who were both denied bail.

A 6pm-6am curfew was also imposed under the guise of implementing the lockdown following a surge in corona virus cases.

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