The renowned novelist was given a suspended prison sentence for her role in staging a peaceful civil rights protest.
Celebrated Zimbabwean author, award-winning film maker, and cultural activist Tsitsi Dangarembga has been given a suspended prison sentence after she was found guilty for inciting violence by the masses after she planned a peaceful protests to demand political reform. Dangarembga, who is also an activist, was initially arrested in 2020.
In 2020 Dangarembga, along with another activist, Julie Barnes, got arrested while holding placards calling on the government to reform some of it's policies and release investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, who was also accused of inciting violence for speaking out against the Zimbabwean government. In addition to receiving a suspended sentence, Dangarembga and Barnes were each charged 70,000 Zimbabwean dollars, which is an equivalent of $217.39 USD.
Dangarembga's six-month jail term was suspended for the next five years on the condition that she would not repeat what happened. Since news of the event broke, PEN International has since shared a statement condemning the actions, and calling the conviction a "mockery of justice." In 2021, Dangarembga was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize by English PEN. In the same year, Dangarembga, became the first Black woman to win the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
Since news of the verdict broke, several social media users also went online to share their thoughts on the recent development, with many supporting Dangarembga, and others agreeing with the verdict.
\u201cWe condemn the conviction today of award-winning writer Tsitsi Dangarembga by a Zimbabwe Court, and reiterate our calls to the Zimbabwe authorities to uphold their human rights obligations and desist from persecuting dissenting voices. @EfieZethu https://t.co/f2utmmVaX7\u201d— PEN International (@PEN International) 1664469535
\u201cWe condemn this verdict and call for all charges against writer, filmmaker and winner of the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize Tsitsi Dangarembga to be dropped.\u201d— English PEN (@English PEN) 1664470579
\u201cThe conviction of Tsitsi Dangarembga @EfieZethu for holding a placard is one of the biggest blunders ever made by Mnangagwa\u2019s repressive regime, they might not care, but they will regret it.\n\nIt has put a magnificent global spotlight back on Zimbabwe, something Zimbabwe needed!\u201d— Hopewell Chin\u2019ono (@Hopewell Chin\u2019ono) 1664463169
\u201c@daddyhope @EfieZethu Why don\u2019t we all immediately have a national day of protest. Similar to hers. Just write a message in solidarity with her and get a picture taken and post it. They can\u2019t convict 15million people. Heck even if they do, then what \ud83e\udd37\ud83c\udffe\u200d\u2642\ufe0f\u201d— Hopewell Chin\u2019ono (@Hopewell Chin\u2019ono) 1664463169
\u201c@pen_int @EfieZethu Zimbabwe is a Sovereign Nation and we will not tolerate Lawlessness, Anarchy and Disorder in our nation.\n\nTsitsi Dangarembwa is now a CONVICTED criminal in our nation.\n\nIt is what it is, whether you like us or not.\n\nWe will ALWAYS conduct our nation\u2019s affairs in our own way.\u201d— PEN International (@PEN International) 1664469535
Last month, we spoke to Dangarembga about this case and her work. She told us:
"I think the state targets dissenting voices. Some of those dissenting voices are women’s voices... I think the effect of taking action against women is particularly shocking because women’s dissident voices are usually not violent. Peaceful protest is a constitutional right in Zimbabwe.”