The Zimbabwe Republic Police
of human rights violations,
followed by the army at
What social distancing?
Police in Highfields transport people
arrested for violating lockdown rules
on January 8.
Pic Credit. Ruvimbo Muchenje.
On the last day of January, journalist Hopewell
Chin’ono, who has exposed government corruption
and has been arrested 3 times in the last six
months, tweeted a freestyle version of a song that
he titled “Dem Loot”
In a reggae style, Chin’ono – fresh from getting bail
after being in remand prison for 20 daysdenounced corruption at the highest level of
Within a day, over 112k had listened to the amateur
song and its title under the hashtag, #DemLoot was
trending in the social media streets of Zimbabwe.
What could have been a moment of fun by
Chin’ono turned out to be a trigger for a
conversation on the gravity of high level corruption
in Zimbabwe, and how such corruption has resulted
in the total collapse of the country’s social service
delivery system, notably health, education and
public service and infrastructure.
The conversations were timeous as the country
endured the fourth week of a government-imposed
strict lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown, which came in response to the rise
government’s ill-preparedness to solve, not just the
COVID-19 problem, but the entire social and
economic rot in the country.
As the numbers of infections swelled, public health
institutions, already teetering towards total collapse
following years of neglect, were overwhelmed.
Government, whose approach has always been
military-first, found itself with a well-oiled military
machinery, and public health institutions that had
become death traps.
This is the same government, ironically, which
arrested Hopewell Chin’ono after he exposed the
high-level looting of US$60 million meant for
COVID-19 interventions in June 2020.
To date, no-one has been convicted of the brazen
looting and public health institution remain
incapacitated, and the ordinary citizen is living on
luck as some public health centres- as surveyed
nationally by ZPP – do not even have basic
medication such as Paracetamol pain killer tablets.
So, as Chin’ono capped the month with an amateur
song that reminded government of its obligations,
it was clearer that the events of January had proved
that government had not learned from the previous
lockdowns as the focus remained not on the critical
health and other key social service sectors, but
equipping the state security agents to silence
citizens in the name of COVID-19 enforcement.
They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing
from the lockdown initiated in March 2020.
This is evidenced by the dominance of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on the list of
human rights violators of the month of January.
ZRP accounted for 45.05 percent of the 271 human
rights violations in January, up from 22.61 in
December, while the Zimbabwe National Army
(ZNA) contributed to 26.07 percent of human rights
violations, compared to 7.9 percent last month.
The police and the army are on the frontline of
enforcing the lockdown and while doing that, they
have harassed, assaulted and illegally detained
ZPP documented 101 cases of harassment, 44 cases
of assault, and 19 unlawful arrests, most of which
are attributable to the enforcement of the
It is on this basis that January was a false start to
2021, a year that was hoped to provide a break
from the turmoil of 2020.