BY SILAS NKALA

BRITISH MP and former anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain has urged the British government to extend sanctions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime because of “escalating human rights violations” in the southern African country.

Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Hain implored Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to impose more punitive sanctions on key Zimbabwean ministers and security chiefs.

“On July 20, highly-respected journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested and denied bail for supporting an anti-corruption protest and faces 10 years in jail,” Hain, a former Labour cabinet minister, said.

“Opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume was arrested and youth leader Takunda Madzana abducted and tortured by State security agents on July 26.”

Zimbabwe has been under Western sanctions since the 2000 land reform programme that displaced whites from commercial farms and subsequent human rights abuses by the late former President Robert Mugabe in successive elections.

The European Union has relaxed its embargo on Harare, but the US has remained steadfast, demanding political and economic reforms from the Zanu PF government for sanctions to be lifted.
Mnangagwa has been on a re-engagement drive, but continued rights abuses by his administration, which came to power in November 2017 through a military coup, has frustrated the efforts.

Hain added: “As well as rampant corruption, there is a pattern of ongoing human rights violations under cover of the COVID-19 crackdown.

“Can the government update its sanctions to cover more Zimbabwe ministers and security chiefs?”

Ngarivhume and Chin’ono, whose arrest Hain cited as reasons for beefing up sanctions, were both involved in the organisation of the protest.

Both have been charged with incitement to commit public violence and denied bail, to block them from participating in yesterday’s protests.

Several other members of opposition parties were abducted with some going into hiding fearing arrest.

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