Zimbabwe court fines novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga over protest | Human Rights News

Dangaremba, a nominee for the 2020 Booker Prize, is a prominent critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Award-winning Zimbabwean filmmaker and novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga was fined and given a six-month suspended prison sentence after a court found her guilty of “inciting violence in a public place” during an anti-government protest in 2020.

Dangarembga was on trial along with her friend and protester Julie Barnes, who was also found guilty on Thursday.

The two were fined 70,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($193) and given suspended sentences, meaning they remain free on condition that they do not commit the same crime for the next five years.

A strong critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, Dangarembga has been fighting corruption and demanding reforms for many years. She argued during the trial that Zimbabweans have a right to protest.

“Both intended to incite violence and the defendant was found guilty as charged,” Harare judge Barbara Mateko said.

Their attorney Chris Mhike said the two women were first-time offenders and asked for leniency.

Outside court, 63-year-old Dangarembga said she was “not surprised” by the verdict.

“Our citizenship is being changed to one that is not an active citizen, but a subject, and we are not a monarchy,” she said, adding that She will appeal the conviction.

Dangarembga and Barnes have arrested at the end of July 2020 after they marched through the deserted streets of Harare, holding a banner that read ‘We want better – reform our institutions’ before they were dragged into police cars. A day later, the novelist was released on bail.

Human rights lawyers said at the time that dozens of activists had been detained by security forces, who had been dispatched to quell the protests. Rights lawyers also said there were cases of kidnapping and torture, which the government has denied.

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga holds a placard that says 'We want better.  Our institutional reform 'in the anti-corruption march in Harare in July 2020
Tsitsi Dangarembga was arrested at an anti-corruption rally. She says the right to protest has been “seriously eroded” in Zimbabwe [File: Zinyange Auntony/AFP]

Dangarembga told Al Jazeera shortly after that the crackdown showed that the right to peaceful protest had been “seriously eroded” in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabweans must remain silent and faithfully accept whatever the authorities decide to do, or face arrest for peacefully expressed differences of opinion,” she said.

Dangarembga won the Africa section of the 1989 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her first novel, Neurological Conditions, the first book published in English by an incoming black woman. from Zimbabwe.

She has Nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize 2020 for her book This Mourable Body. These two works are part of a trilogy that presents Zimbabwean politics through the eyes of Tambudzai Sigauke, known as Tambu, as she grew up. The second book in the series is The Book of Not, published in 2006.

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