Four people have been arrested for booing Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe while she was addressing a political rally.
“I can confirm the arrest of three adult males and a female,” said police spokesman Charity Charamba on Friday.
“The president of the Republic of Zimbabwe was the guest of honour at the rally and what they did was tantamount to undermining the authority of the president,” he added.
The four allegedly shouted that they hate Grace Mugabe and booed her when she was speaking in Bulowayo on Saturday. They were arrested Thursday. If convicted they could face a year in jail.
There has been a crackdown on freedom of expression in the southern African nation in recent months, with a US woman arrested for allegedly calling President Robert Mugabe “a goblin” in a tweet.
Martha O’Donovan, 25, faces 20 years if convicted on charges of subversion.
Ninety-three year old Mugabe and his politically ambitious wife are allowing no room for dissent ahead of pivotal elections next year.
This week, Mugabe axed his long-time deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Grace Mugabe’s main competition in the race to succeed the president.
Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi told dpa that the arrests show that Zimbabwe’s first family will not tolerate criticism.
“Grace is forcing people to accept her. Honestly, one should not be arrested for telling someone that you dislike her,” Mudzengi said.
Mugabe, who has been in power for over 30 years, has been accused of election-rigging, human rights abuses and destroying the country’s once vibrant economy.