Police in Zimbabwe have charged four civil society activists with treason over an alleged plot to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Nyasha Mphahlo, Tatenda Mombeyerara, Gamuchirai Mukura and George Makoni were arrested on Monday night after they landed at the Robert Mugabe International Airport from South Africa.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who are representing the activists, said the four had been charged with treason.
“Zimbabwe authorities charged the four pro-democracy campaigners with subverting a constitutional government for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Mnangagwa’s administration,” the ZLHR said in a brief update.
The activists were expected to appear in court on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum on Wednesday said another activist, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, had also been picked up at the airport and was yet to be charged.
Civil society groups said the latest round of arrests was linked to a story published by the state owned Herald newspaper last Friday claiming they had attended regime change workshops in the Maldives and Czech Republic.
The paper claimed “a group of shaddy organisations with links to the (main opposition) MDC Alliance has been hard at work laying the groundwork for civil unrest to be leashed next month.”
Several organisations named in the story dismissed it as false.
The MDC led by Nelson Chamisa has threatened to roll out protests against President Mnangagwa challenging his legitimacy following last year’s disputed elections.
In January police charged scores of opposition and civil society activists with treason after violent protests over a steep increase in the price of fuel.
President Mnangagwa also deployed soldiers to quell the protests and civil society groups say 17 people were killed during the clampdown.
Several women were also allegedly raped during the clampdown, and over a thousand people were accused of looting and destruction of property.
The government this week raised the price of fuel by half amid a worsening foreign currency crisis that has seen the value of a newly introduced currency declining rapidly.