BRITISH Foreign secretary Harriett Baldwin on Thursday summoned Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, to discuss the Theresa May government’s concerns over reports of violence, killings of demonstrators, internet blackout and a security crackdown in the country this week.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Harriet said Britain was deeply concerned by reports of violence and the security crackdown in the country.
This came as reports showed that an estimated 14 people had died and hundreds injured and arrested since Monday when the stay away organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions turned violent.
“Deeply concerned by reports of violence, fatalities, internet shutdown and security crack-down this week in Zimbabwe. I summoned ambassador to @foreignoffice to discuss concerns in person,” Baldwin tweeted Thursday evening.
Katsande was Deputy Chief Secretary before being reassigned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa after the November 2017 coup which ousted former President Robert Mugabe from power.
In a ministerial statement on Zimbabwe yesterday, Baldwin said: “Since the weekend there has been widespread unrest and a heavy security force response, with several people killed and many injured.
“While we condemn the violent behaviour of some protestors, and unlawful acts such as arson and looting, we are deeply concerned that Zimbabwe’s security forces have acted disproportionately in response. In particular, there are disturbing reports of use of live ammunition, intimidation and excessive force,” the statement read.
“We call on the government of Zimbabwe to ensure its security forces act professionally, proportionately and at all times with respect for human life and constitutional rights. We further call on the government of Zimbabwe to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses. We also urge the reinstatement of full internet access, consistent with citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of expression.”
The European Union, in a statement from Brussels, yesterday said the escalation of violence in Zimbabwe over recent days had been aggravated by the disproportionate use of force by security personnel.
“We expect the government of Zimbabwe to uphold human rights and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Constitution, and ensure due legal process for those detained. Access to medical services should be granted to those in need. It is essential that demonstrations be carried out peacefully; the destruction of private or public property is unacceptable,” the EU said.
“Moreover, the shutdown of access to the Internet should also be reversed. Access to information is a universal right and should be respected by government in accordance with its constitutional and international obligations.”
Zanu PF has accused the MDC of the violence, but ongoing court cases revealed the involvement of the Zimbabwe military and ruling party apparatchiks in the orgy of violence.
Zimbabwe authorities also deported eTV news reporters yesterday upon touching down at the Robert Mugabe International Airport, in what the media organisation claimed was an attempt to cover up for the heinous activities by the soldiers.
Media Alliance of Zimbabwe said in a statement: “Aldrin Smpear and Linge Ndabambi of eTV news were refused entry into Zimbabwe on flimsy grounds. “The deportation of the foreign journalists comes on the backdrop of the second directive by government to completely shutdown the Internet in response to widespread citizens’ demonstrations, violent protests and a heavy-handed State response that has plunged the country into a crisis.” On US, American senators condemned the violence and implored the Zimbabwe authorities to desist from excessive use of force when dealing with civilian protests.