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Probe 2019 killings: US, UK

BY MOSES MATENGA THE United States (US) yesterday said Harare should investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of the January 2019 killings, where soldiers and the police allegedly shot and killed at least 23 people, according to civic society organisations. Harare and Washington have been embroiled in a diplomatic spat, with the US constantly calling the Zanu PF government to order over gross human rights violations, as well as alleged use of State machinery to abduct and silence critics. Zanu PF has responded by also calling the US to order over the violence that broke out at Capitol Hill in Washington DC on January 6, which resulted in at least six people being killed, while scores were injured after supporters of the outgoing US President Donald Trump besieged the seat of the US government in protest. Yesterday, the US embassy in Harare issued a statement calling for the sanctioning of the soldiers and police officers responsible for the January 2019 killing of at least 23 civilians during protests against fuel price hikes two years on. “Two years. When will Zimbabwe investigate, prosecute, and convict government security forces accused of rape, torture, and killing civilians in January 2019?” the terse statement read. “Two years is too long to seek justice, answers, accountability,” the US embassy said. The US statement was reiterated by the Dutch embassy, which also said in a statement: “Security forces carried out killings, rape, torture and other grave abuses. It is two years since 17 people were killed and at least eight women raped in Zimbabwe following protests. The victims and their families still wait for answers.” The United Kingdom in Zimbabwe also weighed, in saying: “Two years on, we continue to call for accountability and on the government to enact political and economic reforms that will benefit all Zimbabweans.” But Zanu PF immediately shot back, saying that the US should concentrate on dealing with the mayhem that recently occurred at Capitol Hill in Washington DC. “They must concentrate on the events of January 6, 2021 at Capitol Hill in the United States. That is what is more urgent, and can they concentrate on that and advise on where they stand,” Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said. “Do they support insurrection? Why rush to deal with our issues when they have more pressing issues like what happened in Washington? I don’t know what they really want.” In January 2019, Zimbabweans took to the streets in protest over the hike in the price of fuel announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The military was immediately deployed onto the streets of Harare to patrol and disperse any demonstrators, while police rounded up activists and arrested them in different parts of the country. No arrests have been made of the security agents that shot civilians. One of the victims, Kelvin Choto of Chitungwiza, died at the age of 22. High Court judge Justice Edith Mushore ordered Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe and Constable Rachid Siri to p