Are those arrested all hooligans, thugs?

HARARE - Zimbabwe security forces have reportedly arrested over 700 people over the recent violence and looting that took place in several cities and towns with most of them being teenagers while minors were released into the custody of their parents.

While government officials appeared at various press conferences calling those arrested “hooligans and thugs”, analysts accuse the State of criminalising Zimbabweans through its bad-fit policies and cowboy economics.

Images of those being brought to court show that most of them are teenagers and minors whom the tag “hooligan or thug” falls short.

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika believes the bulk of the people caught up in the State’s dragnet arrests are far from hooligans and thugs but victims of age profiling by an irresponsible State using its army and police not to police or investigate but to victimise and intimidate.

“Calling those arrested hooligans and thugs when some of them were arrested in their homes the day after the unfortunate destruction of property with no evidence of serious investigation.

“This was meant to criminalise these people.

“In fact the Mnangagwa government is responsible for criminalising Zimbabweans in general through its bad-fit policies and cowboy economics whose dishonesty has forced Zimbabweans into dishonest and illegal dealings,” said Lewanika.

He added that every Zimbabwean is now a black market trader because of these bad-fit policies and cowboy economics and this past week the effects of these bad-fit policies and cowboy economics turned otherwise peace-loving and law-abiding citizens into opportunistic looters whose hunger drove them to loot basic commodities.

“The government must stop both criminalising Zimbabweans and engaging in criminal policies and cowboy economics that turn everyone into the occasional criminal.

“Zimbabweans deserve to live in dignity and there is nothing dignified about austerity for the poor while cushioning the rich and privileged.

“The government must professionalise policing services and stop dragnet arrests based on age profiling, the young people of Zimbabwe are already suffering under the yoke of bad economic and political governance, turning them into criminals just increases what is already a heavy burden and limits their already limited future prospects,” said Lewanika.

Political analyst Piers Pigou said given the widespread concerns about the subjugation of due process and the criminal justice system during this crackdown, it will be some time before we get an accurate profile of the accused.

“The government have accused the opposition and civil society groups of orchestrating the violence, which they now attribute to “thugs and hooligans”.

“The inconsistency of their narrative, and the kind of press statement we witnessed recently about criminals masquerading in police and army uniforms is likely to generate more derision and cynicism.

“It seems likely an opportunistic criminal element took advantage of conditions this week, but the profile of those arrested will paint a more complex picture. We already know for example, that this included a number of children,” said Pigou.

Analyst Ednah Masanga weighed in saying we the government of Zimbabwe brands any and all protesters as criminals.

“That allows them to use unjustified excessive force with one goal in mind; to silence the people. I have never believed that all the people who took to the streets all ended up looting.

“I think that line of thought is just PR to whitewash the government’s crimes against humanity.

“People are desperate, hungry and impoverished while Mnangagwa eats cake on the tarmac in Belarus, so I can understand if a few would grab commodities from the shops.

“I don’t condone that at all and neither does that justify shooting people with live ammunition. Since when are the police supposed to shoot people because they were stealing?

“People were shot because they were protesting against the government’s failure to deliver on its promises.”

Another political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said as a nation we are reeling from structural violence, all of us including our kids.

“We are a broken society with increasingly desperate people whose avenues for expressing grievances and vending anger in peaceful ways have been blocked over the years over Zanu PF rule.

“So what you saw this week is a manifestation of this frustration through the direct citizen violence. While the direct violence is regrettable, it is not as harmful as the structural violence or the disproportionate State violence that was unleashed on the people which itself is a reinforcement of structural violence.

“Yes, some teenagers were engaged in the violence directly, and it is regrettable and unjustifiable. But they are idle, are hungry, have nothing to do, are disillusioned and face a bleak future and their attempts to reason with the government were futile, their attempts to change the government through elections failed as the elections were stolen.” Saungweme added.

Comments (1)

Ndinodurura mweya nemwoya wangu mumaoko aMwari am in pain nekufa kwevanhu..tibatsirei Jah

Zvorwadza - 21 January 2019

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