Celebrities protest against repression in Zimbabwe at #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. Even Malawi’s president is critical – otherwise taboo.
From politicians to footballers, in South Africa and across the region: under the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, solidarity with victims of state brutality is spreading in Zimbabwe. Inspired by #BlackLivesMatter, which has spread all over the world from the United States, it is aimed at kidnapping journalists, abusing state power and looting state resources.
The most prominent figures behind #ZimbabweanLivesMatter include the newly elected President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, the South African footballer Percy Tau, who plays in England, South Africa’s most important left opposition leader Julius Malema from the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) and the former head of the liberal South African opposition party DA (Democratic Alliance), Mmusi Maimane.
“We demand the expulsion of the Zimbabwean embassy from South Africa until they restore human rights there,” Malema wrote on Twitter. “Otherwise we will prevent Zimbabwean officials from attending any gatherings in South Africa until they simply respect Zimbabweans.”
Maimane wrote: “Dear @Twitter, please make a graphic for #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. I think it deserves recognition like #BlackLivesMatter.”
The criticism of the new president of Malawi, who breaks the unwritten law that African heads of state do not publicly criticize each other, even with the most serious misconduct, is particularly significant. “I would like to express my deep concern to the Zimbabwean people,” said Chakwera. “You deserve to be listened to.”
Zimbabwean opposition politicians such as Tendai Biti and Jonathan Moyo thanked for the public support. Zimbabwe’s security forces have started a new wave of human rights violations since the repression of anti-corruption demonstrations on July 31st. Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume have been in custody for two weeks for calling for protests in which, among others, the world-famous writer Tsitsi Dangaremgba was temporarily arrested.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was tough. “The bad apples that have tried to divide our people and weaken our system are being sorted out,” he warned in a speech on state television on Tuesday. “Enough is enough.”