Corruption suspect minister arrested
Zimbabwe is a country located in the region of Eastern Africa. The country’s health minister Obadiah Moyo is arrested on suspicion of corruption in connection with the procurement of medical supplies that would have been used in the fight against the corona pandemic.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Zimbabwe, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The coup dot is denied
Interior Minister Kazembe Kazembe holds a press conference denying the rumors of a coup d’état. The country’s highest military leadership participates in the meeting. A specially appointed Security Council blames the “rumor spread” on the media, opposition politicians, religious leaders, former members of the ruling party and Western diplomats. In recent weeks, several politicians from the opposition party MDC have been arrested, including three female MDC politicians who were beaten by police in May (see May 15, 2020). They are charged with soliciting a riot. The United Nations Special Envoy requests Zimbabwe to bring the charge down. A few days later, the three opposition politicians are being charged again, this time for lying about the violence the police exposed them to. The women deny the charges. A number of lawyers have also been arrested. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum has previously reported a compilation of abuses committed by the police and security services during the corona shutdown. The list contains 245 different events.
Journalists free from bail
Two journalists arrested the week before are released on bail. The two journalists have been officially prosecuted for violating the country’s coronary restrictions. They were arrested when they interviewed three female opposition politicians from the MDC party who were abused following a protest action against the country’s way of dealing with the corona crisis (see May 15, 2020). The working conditions for the country’s reporters have worsened during the corona pandemic, but one of the country’s higher courts has ordered the police to allow journalists to report unhindered during the shutdown.
Female opposition members abused
15th of May
Three female leaders from the opposition party MDC Alliance are hard to find just outside the capital Harare. The three belong to the MDC Youth Federation and had taken part in a protest action against the government, which is accused of failing to take action to help the country’s poor during the corona shutdown. After the campaign, the female activists were arrested by the police. They testify that they were subjected to severe abuse and sexual abuse during the time of the police arrest. The EU protests against “torture and humiliation” and demands an independent investigation into the incident. Under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, respect for human rights in the country has continued to erode.
The opposition boycott parliament
The party leader for the country’s largest opposition party, the MDC Alliance, calls on the party’s elected officials to boycott parliamentary work. The decision was made in protest of the fact that Parliament has excluded four MDC members who are closely allied with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. There has long been a stubborn leadership battle within the party between the MDC Alliance and a significantly smaller faction, MDC-T, which challenged Chamisa’s leadership role in the country’s court. At the end of March, the court announced that the election of Chamisa as party leader had not gone right but had to be reversed. Since the founding of the party in 1999, MDC has been divided several times (see Political system).
Extended covid-19 shutdown
President Emmerson Mnangagwa extends the shutdown of Zimbabwe by two weeks. So far, 25 people have been found infected with corona and three people have died. Zimbabwe does not meet the World Health Organization’s requirements for when a country can ease the corona restrictions. The health department accuses the government of not providing doctors with the necessary protective equipment and has therefore brought the government to court. Zimbabwe today celebrated 40 years as an independent nation but without the solemn ceremonies that are customary on Independence Day. In a televised speech, the president instead urged everyone to stay home.
Restricted media freedom in the tracks of corona infection
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), charged with protecting media rights, accuses police of abusing a journalist who documented police work during the Corona crisis. The journalist was also forced to delete all pictures he took. Another three journalists have been arrested briefly in recent days. The fear that the government will use the corona virus as a pretext to restrict freedom of press and expression in the country is growing.
The UN launches a humanitarian rescue plan
Together with the UN, the authorities present a humanitarian rescue plan to help Zimbabweans who are at risk of starving. The goal is to reach food, water, sanitation, health, education and housing to 5.6 million people. Of these, the UN food program WFP estimates that 4.3 million are in an emergency. The situation in the country is aggravated by the coronas center. The pandemic can have disastrous consequences in Zimbabwe whose health care even before the outbreak lacked the most basic resources and medicines.
The country closes and the US dollar may be used again
The whole country is shut down for three weeks in the fight against corona. Everyone is encouraged to stay home. Only vital matters are allowed. Persons in necessary social functions are exempt from the restrictions. Police set up roadblocks to check that no one is moving unnecessarily in the streets and police patrols in the capital Harare are ordering residents to go home. It is now allowed to use US dollars as a means of payment. The decision has been made to facilitate the financial situation, the government says. However, one of the country’s economists believes that the corona is just an excuse and that the reintroduction of foreign currency was absolutely necessary due to the economic situation.
First death due to corona
Three days after the first case of coronary disease was found in the country, a 30-year-old man who tested positive for covid-19 dies. President Emmerson Mnangagwa decides to close the country’s limits on passenger transport.
The economic crisis is exacerbated
Inflation reaches over 500 percent, according to the country’s statistical authority. It happens a few days after the finance minister introduced a controlled floating exchange rate in an attempt to curb the Zimbabwe dollar’s fall. Today’s figures evoke dark memories from 2007–2008 when inflation skyrocketed (see Modern History).
The United States tightens the sanctions
11th of March
Two senior officials in the administration, Owen Ncube, Minister of National Security, and Anselem Sanyatwe, former commander of the President’s special patronage, are charged with extended penalties. The United States freezes both men’s American assets. They have previously banned entry into the United States. Ncube and Sanyatwe are held accountable for turning down peaceful protests and the US calls for a halt to state-sanctioned violence.
Remnants of war heroes should be returned
Skulls from beheaded national heroes that have hitherto been kept at the British Museum are to be returned to the Zimbabwean state. A total of 27 survivors are left and among them are the skulls of the spiritual leaders Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi who organized an uprising against the British colonial rulers in the late 1800s.
Trial against opposition politicians begins
MP Job Sikhala, who is charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Sikhala is the Vice Chairman of the largest opposition party Movement for Democratic Change. He was arrested in July after criticizing the country’s leader at a political meeting. The indictment is one in the line directed at government critics. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights call the trial “harassment of opposition MPs”.
China promises enhanced cooperation
During a visit to Zimbabwe, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi praises the cooperation between the two countries in infrastructure, agriculture and mining. He calls it a winning concept for both parties and promises to explore new areas of cooperation. Yi, on the other hand, does not address the issue of direct financial support to Zimbabwe. The good relations between China and the Zanu-PF governing party date back to the days of the civil war, but in 2019 they collided with each other after Zimbabwe claimed that only a small part of the promised aid from China was paid. China has become an increasingly important partner since the US and the EU strongly condemned abuses and violence during both the incumbent government and the ex-President Mugabe’s time in power.