Several photos circulating under the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter on Twitter claim to depict the impact of police brutality in the ongoing anti-government protests in Zimbabwe.
Despite the possible risk of contracting COVID-19, Zimbabweans have taken to the streets to protest against myriad challenges facing the country. Such include corruption and an economic crisis that is reported to have seen an inflation rate of over 700 per cent.
In response, President Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed his intentions to “flush out” those whom he says are attempting to divide the country. True to his words, among those arrested in connection to the protests was journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who remains in police custody as he was denied bail.
The protests have gained global traction online, but some of the photos attached to the conversation are not connected to the current protests in Zimbabwe.
This photo (also see the feature image above) attached to a tweet posted on August 4 (see below) is actually from 2016.
Happy Birthday to you Mr President @BarackObama.
I am appealing to you to amplify our call for #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, where the government has been attacking the journalists who alerted the world on Corruption. Now activists are arrested for peaceful protests. Zim needs you! pic.twitter.com/sKuXXpvlGo
— Munesu Rudyawo: Zimbabwe Shall Be Free Someday (@rudyawo) August 4, 2020
A Google Reverse Image Search reveals that the photo was taken in Harare and shows police officers containing protests by motorists who were demonstrating against police harassment and demanding of bribes on roadblocks. The image was originally published by the Associated Press (AP) on Monday, July 4, 2016.
Another image showing a police officer seemingly hitting a woman with a stick was posted alongside a tweet claiming that women in Zimbabwe are the ones leading the protests. However, this image is actually from Uganda. A Google Reverse Image Search shows that the image was published on March 26, 2020, and shows Ugandan police beating a fruits vendor in Kampala for violating the government’s order to stay at home as a measure against the spread of COVID-19.
— war on bullshit (@sibiyas1) June 22, 2020
Yet another image showing photographers trying to capture a woman lying on the floor is actually from 2019. The photo was featured on the European Photo Agency (EPA) and shows an injured protester in Harare during opposition party – Movement for Democratic Change – protests. The photo was taken on August 16, 2019.
Out of all the pics coming out of Zimbabwe this one broke my heart the most. Imagine lying on the ground this helpless and all people wanna do is take pics instead of help you up 💔💔💔💔💔😔 pic.twitter.com/ehIv85hCSN
— Quentin Quarantino (@ThirdEyeMalawi) August 3, 2020
This other image, showing a woman dressed in all-white supposedly being kicked by a police officer is also not from the ongoing protests. The photo was initially taken in November 2019, when Zimbabwe policemen were dispersing a crowd that was set to attend a meeting held by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Wow! Zimbabwean Police officer kicks and tries to take down a fleeing woman during the ongoing crackdown on activists and the political opposition. The leopard doesn’t change its spots #ZimbabweanLivesMatter
— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) August 6, 2020
Several photos circulating online in regards to the Zimbabwe protests and being attributed to the same are misleading.