Southern Africa on the edge over Arab revolt fever

THE Arab revolt fever could be spreading across the southern African region with Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland reportedly on the edge over a possible mass protests.\r\n

And the leaders of those countries are not taking chances. They have openly warned against any kind of revolt.

In Swaziland, a Facebook known as The April 12 Uprising is calling for the overthrow of King Mswati III on April 12, 2011. This is the date in 1973 when political parties were banned.

Angola’s ruling MPLA party has threatened to take ‘serious measures’ against anyone seeking power in the streets after an anonymous call for a mass protest in on March 6.

Zambia has not been left out in all these going by President Rupiah Banda’s recent warning to his adversaries against “misleading” Zambians to stage Egypt-style street revolt to remove his government from power, while in Zimbabwe, underground activists are planning anti-President Robert Mugabe protests on Tuesday.

The activists calling for President Mugabe’s resignation have been mobilising through social networks such as Facebook since last week.

At least 45 activists, including a former opposition legislator and university lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai, have been charged with treason after they were found watching videos of the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings.

Analysts say the arrests were part of a plan by President Mugabe’s loyalists to pre-empt similar protests.

Meanwhine in Zimbabwe, the treason case of 45 human rights activists failed to take off on Monday after the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe summoned the magistrate hearing the matter amid reports that armed soldiers had been deployed in Harare’s streets to thwart any Egyptian style demonstrations.

The 45 activists were arrested at a meeting in the capital Harare and were accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe’s government using the ‘Egyptian’ mass uprising style which saw former Egypt president, Hosni Mubarak resigning.

“The presiding magistrate is meeting with the Chief Justice. You are remanded in custody to tomorrow (Tuesday),” Harare magistrate, Memory Chigwaza told the court.

Reasons were not given why the magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi went to have a meeting with Justice Chidyausiku. Chigwaza could not listen to appeals by the defence lawyer, Alec Muchadehama to have his client’s access private doctors after they testified last week that they were tortured by law enforcement agents in custody.

Muchadehama last week told the court that his clients have no case to answer as videos they are accused to have seen that showed uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were also seen by millions of Zimbabweans on television.

Mugabe’s ally Muammar Gaddaffi of Libya is facing off with massive protests that are threatening his 42 year iron fist rule after ordinary people followed uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Gaddaffi and his regime were slammed with sanctions by the United Nations, after thousands of people protest against Gaddaffi’s rule was killed by the army and security forces for marching in the streets.

Meanwhile armed soldiers were on Monday deployed in Harare’s streets. observers suspected the soldiers had been deployed to deal with anyone wanting to start an Egypt-style uprising.

Hordes of heavily armed soldiers, and anti-riot police disembarking from military tankers were seen in the city centre near the Harare gardens.

“I know for sure that these soldiers are up to no good. They can do anything at any time, “ an eye witness told Radio VOP. "We don’t feel safe," said a fruit vendor.

This comes after a circulation of emails which alerted the public that there would be demonstrations to force Mugabe to resign.

“The protest is intended to demand the immediate cessation and an end to the dictatorial regime misruling Zimbabwe ,"read the email. "In addition, the mass demonstrations countrywide will convey anger and concern about the suffering of Zimbabweans from brutal economic, military, political and social repression under the regime of Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980."

Zanu (PF) secretary for legal affairs and the country’s Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa last week warned that the army would not allow anti-government protests inspired by the mass revolutions that have occurred in Tunisia and Egypt during the past month.

“Those who may want to emulate what happened in Egypt and Tunisia will regret. Everybody is warned to keep peace in the country," Mnangagwa told army officers in comments broadcasted by the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation last week.

Africa Review