AFP / Harare
Police in Zimbabwe yesterday arrested internationally-acclaimed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga as they enforced a ban on protests coinciding with the anniversary of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election.
Dangarembga, 61, was taken away in a police truck as she demonstrated in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale alongside another protester, an AFP photographer saw.
Streets in the centre of the city were largely deserted as police and soldiers set up checkpoints to prevent entry.
Opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, head of a small party called Transform Zimbabwe, had called for demonstrations against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy The protests were timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Mnangagwa’s election, which the opposition says was a fraud.
But most people stayed at home after police on Thursday issued a ban and warned of a tough response.
“All security arms of government are on full alert and will deal decisively with any individuals or groups fomenting violence,” it warned.
There were more checkpoints and roadblocks than usual on roads leading to the centre of the capital, manned by police and soldiers.
In the central business district, police carrying batons or riot shields were heavily deployed, an AFP journalist saw.
In the suburbs, only a handful of people appeared to brave the ban.
An AFP photographer saw Dangarembga and a fellow protester, Julie Barnes, hauled into a truck full of police armed with AK-47 rifles and riot gear.
Shortly afterwards, she tweeted: “Arrested! At Borrowdale. Ope it will be OK”. She also tweeted a photo of herself and Barnes, sitting on the floor at a police station.
She had been carrying placards calling for reforms and the release of Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent journalist arrested last week under a government crackdown.
Minutes before her arrest, she said: “It seems that there has been a big reaction by the authorities to this protest.
“They declared it illegal — I’m not quite sure (why), apart from the fact that they don’t want it...Our constitution gives Zimbabweans the right to demonstrate peacefully and that’s what we are doing.”
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