Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on as he gives a media conference at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday warned he would “flush out” political opponents as rights groups reported dozens of activists had been arrested in a crackdown.

Mnangagwa, who took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017, said his administration was facing “many hurdles and attacks” including “divisive politics of some opposition elements”.

“The bad apples who have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out,” he warned in a nationwide address.

“We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors.”

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Tuesday it had represented more than 20 people arrested since last week when authorities thwarted anti-government protests that had been scheduled for last Friday.

The protests had been called by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, head of a small party called Transform Zimbabwe, against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy.

Police banned the protests and government described them as an “insurrection”.

Amnesty International has condemned what it calls the “witch-hunt and repression of peaceful dissent.”

This comes after Zimbabwean top writer and Booker Prize nominee, Tsitsi Dangarembga was freed on bail on Saturday following her arrest during anti-government protests a day earlier.

Dangarembga, 61, was charged with incitement to commit violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations after staging a two-women demonstration in Harare which coincided with the second anniversary of Mnangagwa’s disputed election.

She was arrested in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale alongside another protester and hauled into a truck full of police armed with AK-47 rifles and riot gear.

Police had banned the protests called by Ngarivhume.

The government had denounced the protests, calling them an “insurrection”.

Eleven other people arrested on Friday, including Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer and spokeswoman for the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance, were also released on Saturday.

Mahere live-streamed via Facebook images of riot police scaling metal barriers into a suburban eatery to which she had retreated after her protest.

(COMPILED BY AFP NEWS AGENCY)

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