Award-winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga has been arrested during anti-corruption demonstrations in Harare. Dangarembga, who was included this week on the Booker Prize long-list for her novel This Mournable Body, is known for speaking out against corruption in her country.
She announced her arrest via her Twitter account.
On Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa warned that those who attended the demonstrations would be dealt with “severely.”
Anti-government demonstrations have been outlawed. Armed soldiers were deployed to Harare ahead of the planned protests to shut down the businesses forcibly and to prevent citizens from entering the city.
“It must never be in doubt that the objective of these rogue Zimbabweans acting as in cahoots with foreign appendages, supporters, and financiers … is to overthrow our democratically elected Government,” Mnangagwa said on Wednesday. “I want to warn the organisers of this ill-fated demonstrations that our security services will be vigilant and on high alert to appropriately respond to their shenanigans. I urge all patriotic and law-abiding citizens to shun these malcontents and reject their divisive and ruinous plan.”
Jacob Ngarivhume, the coordinator of the scheduled demonstrations, was arrested last week after the government accused him of using his social media to incite public violence. He was not present at Thursday’s protest, as his bail hearing is not until Monday.
Many Zimbabweans feel they have been worse off under Mnangagwa’s rule, citing a failing economy and a brutal crackdown of fundamental human rights as part of the reason. Mnangagwa took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in 2017 amid the promise of country-wide reform.
It is a promise he is yet to deliver.