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Harare & Gweru offices sealed off by heavily armed police
Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa
July 27, 2007
of the National
Constitutional Assembly in Harare, and provincial offices in
Gweru, were still under police guard on Friday, two days after police
embarked on a violent crackdown on the organisation. The pressure
group reports that the offices are still closed and guarded by heavily
armed police and soldiers and NCA staff are barred from entering
the premises. NCA coordinator Tapera Kapuya said arrests are still
continuing as more activists are being hunted down countrywide.
Many people were beaten and arrested on Wednesday during countrywide
demonstrations for a people driven constitution. Scores of activists
were arrested in Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Harare. NCA
chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku said more than 170 people received
hospital treatment in Harare after they were assaulted while in
police custody. Those beaten included elderly women and nursing
mothers. Several people are still in Hospital at the Avenues, Dandaro
and West End Clinics.
The NCA coordinator said
the atmosphere was extremely tense, especially in Harare on Friday,
where there was a heavy presence of members of the police and military.
Describing the situation at the NCA office he said: "In the
morning there was a tanker, one of those riot police tankers and
a military van. There are a number of police and military personnel
who remain at the gates of the NCA headquarters in Harare. This
is the same scenario at the NCA Gweru office." The group said
it's apparent, given the display of force, that this is all about
intimidation, but the NCA said there is nothing that will "put
the breaks into their resolve to ensure that Zimbabwe becomes a
democracy." The violence and arbitrary arrests continue against
the backdrop of a SADC initiative to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Observers say the actions of the Zimbabwean government clearly show
the regime's contempt for regional institutions and many believe
African leaders have taken sides and are backing the regime, not
the people of Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe himself
was quoted by the New African Magazine in March saying South African
President Thabo Mbeki backed his government. He said, "And
in Dar-es-Salaam President Mbeki put it very clearly. He said, `The
fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe,
tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will
be Angola, it will be any other African country. And any government
that is perceived to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists,
would be made a target and would be undermined. So let us not allow
any point of weakness in the solidarity of the SADC, because that
weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa." Mbeki
later said that statement was taken out of context but critics say
the 'deafening' silence by SADC leaders is shameful as the brutal
oppression of anyone perceived to be an opponent of the Zimbabwe
Here is a Q&A
with Tapera Kapuya of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly,
NCA, Office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Subject: Hundreds of
NCA members were brutally assaulted by riot police in Zimbabwe on
Wednesday 25 July 2007:
TK: The current figures
show that approximately 150 are in hospitals in Harare. Among them
is Ernest Mudzengi, the NCA's national director. We know that seven
people, who are severely injured in Mutare are also in hospital.
We are verifying other information about those detained elsewhere
and injuries. As soon as we know more we will be able to provide
is the profile of those injured?
TK: Most of
the injured are women. We know that two women have fractured ribs,
we have reports that there are others with broken limbs.
TK: Police in
two B18 000 white Mazda pick up trucks stormed the NCA offices on
Herbert Chitepo Ave. They opened gun fire, shooting into the air.
They were wearing riot gear, and they detonanted tear gas at the
office. They beat up staff members and members of the public who
were at the NCA offices on other matters of business.
is the reason for this brutal assault?
TK: The NCA staged a
series of protest marches in all the major cities around Zimbabwe:
Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo to register awareness on the
need for a new people driven constitution. We also wanted to raise
public awareness on the implications of the planned 18th constitutional
amendment on governance, citizens rights to elect leaders of their
choice, which will now become the business of Parliament and the
implcations of the expanded legsialature on the national fiscus,
in a country with such deep poverty. In the context of the SADC
initiated mediation process there is need for a democratic process
to achieve national consensus without excluding the genrality of
does the attack on the NCA's members and staff mean?
TK: It points at the
fact that the state is keen on using repressive methods to contain
all forms of public discontent about it. It indicates what is likely
to happen to citizens more and more as we come closer to the elections.
It also reveals a state that is contemptuous of the regional efforts
that are underway to seek mutual and peaceful efforts at resolving
the national crisis.
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