Convenor of the protest outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria on Wednesday, Shingirai Rungangah, vowed that he would mobilise further demonstrations in a bid to highlight the “ongoing human rights abuses and suffering of our people back home”.
Rungangah said Zimbabweans based in South Africa are considering marching to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, urging him to intervene in Harare.
“Zimbabweans have a right to freely access the internet. The government does not have the right to disrupt any network operations and the soldiers must go back to their barracks.
“Now, our protest has gone to the next level where we are going to mobilise every Zimbabwean living in South Africa to march to the offices of President Cyril Ramaphosa,” Rungangah said.
He had led the march from the Union Buildings to the embassy but was disappointed at the no show of the Zimabawean ambassador to South Africa.
“We really felt very bad that our Ambassador David Hamadziripi refused to come and talk to us,” Rungangah said, adding that the huge support for the march was heartening.
Activist Tino Mambeu told protesters that human rights activists in Zimbabwe have been detained following widespread riots across the country.
“Just this morning, at 7.25am, #ThisFlag Pastor Evan Mawarire has been picked up. He has actually been abducted by armed forces.
“Amos Chibaya, who is the [opposition] MDC Alliance, has been picked up by police. A councillor in Hatcliffe, Mr Ruzive was picked up by police yesterday. There are so many people that are disappearing every day,” Mambeu said.
“Today I say Mr President Cyril Ramaphosa we are sending you to go and speak on behalf of us to the regime. It’s not because we cannot act, but we wish to remain peaceful.
“It’s not because we do not know where they stay, but we have chosen the way of peace, not because we are cowards.”
South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday criticised “the anemic response of the South African government to the violence and intimidation being carried out against civilians [which] is an abhorrent manifestation of the failed ANC policy of quiet diplomacy” on Zimbabwe, adding that it stands with the people of Zimbabwe.
“We must not tolerate the tepid statements of a government rendered ineffective in its foreign policy because of its own decision to consort with dictators across the continent rather than siding with civilians in desperate need of our support,” DA spokesperson on international relations Stevens Mokgalapa said.