The ongoing lockdown to slow down the spread of coronavirus in Zimbabwe has seen the conduct of the country’s security forces coming under serious scrutiny.
Soldiers and police officers have on too many occasions been singled out for violating human rights under the guise of enforcing the lockdown regulations.
One of the alleged first causalities of the police brutality under the lockdown was Levison Ncube, a 25-year-old Bulawayo man, who was assaulted by police officers.
Ncube was walking his girlfriend home when he was caught by the cops from hell. He died a few days later from head injuries.
In another incident, a number of police officers were arrested in Bulawayo last month after they allegedly tortured two sisters they accused of violating the stay at home orders issued by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March.
As if that was not enough, police officers in Bulawayo allegedly shot and killed a 34-year-old man, Paul Manukopa, following a high-speed car chase.
Manukopa, who was with his girlfriend, was not armed.
Then there was the alleged abduction of Harare West MP Joana Mamombe and her fellow MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe claimed investigations had shown that the three had faked their abduction, but following clearly partisan comments by senior government officials on the matter, no one believes him.
Only an independent investigation will absolve state security agents of involvement in the heinous crime against the women. The jury is still out on this one.
Then there is the case of MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson for the youth Womberai Nhende, who was said to be battling for his life yesterday after he was bludgeoned by police officers that were involved in the seizure of the party’s headquarters by security forces last Thursday.
On Friday, police fired teargas and arrested several MDC Alliance leaders, including former Finance minister Tendai Biti.
This was after the security forces blocked Biti and other MDC Alliance leaders from entering their party headquarters to address a press conference.
The use of security forces to take over the opposition party’s headquarters on behalf of a rival faction was yet another worrying episode in what is becoming a pattern of authorities using the cover of the lockdown to trample on citizens’ rights.
Mnangagwa has been mum for almost three weeks now on the country’s response to Covid-19 and has let the security forces do the talking by coming hard on citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Human rights watchers have recorded many violations since the lockdown began.
The authorities need to be reminded that such brazen abuses can no longer be hidden like what happened when thousands were butchered in Matabeleland and Midlands under the cover of a state of emergency.
The world is watching and there will be consequences for the transgressions one day.