Author Tsitsi Dangarembga: ‘The Right to Peaceful Protest is Seriously Eroded in Zimbabwe’

by Shine My Crown Staff

Booker Prize-shortlisted author Tsitsi Dangarembga made headlines earlier this year when she was arrested during anti-corruption protests in Harare.

The Zimbabwean writer and activist and charged last month with intention to incite public violence. She was later freed on bail.

On July 3, hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed on the streets ahead of planned demonstrations against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Authorities described the protests as a “planned insurrection.”

“On my fourth visit to court on October 7, a hearing finally took place. One of the requests my lawyers made at the hearing was for a trial date. The case was postponed. I return to court on November 24, to hear the ruling on that and the other requests that were made,” Dangarembga told AlJazeera about the current status of her case.

“I do not know what sentence can be expected if I am convicted by the court. I have not asked, nor have my lawyers told me. My arrest and the arrests of others who protested on July 31, or even in the days leading up to July 31 indicate that the right to peaceful protest is seriously eroded in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean citizens are expected to keep silent and docilely accept whatever the authorities decide to do, or face arrest for peacefully expressed differences of opinion.”

The author was also asked whether she feels betrayed by Mnangagwa, who has so far failed to fulfill promises of peace and healing he made to the nation before taking office.

“The betrayal, in my opinion, began before independence. Violent intimidation has been the strategy of the ruling party (ZANU-PF) to keep the population tame, in order to achieve their power objectives since before independence,” she explained. “There were so many conflicts in the armed struggle going right back to pre-independence and the path was already laid down, the path of anti-intellectualism, where we do not think things through in light of the context of where we are and in light of all the knowledge that is available in the 20th century. We were very dogmatic. We are African and our tradition is what we are following. It is just ridiculous because you are not operating in the 16th century, so what are you harking back to? So that was definitely laid down in the armed struggle.”

Click here to read the full interview.

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