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Human rights activists should be freed and the harassment of civil society organisations stop says ACTSA
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
January 17, 2013

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor organisation to the Anti Apartheid Movement, supports the call for the release of the Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and Chair of the Zimbabwe in Crisis Coalition, Okay Machisa and his four colleagues, one of whom has been detained for a month.

ACTSA is concerned that the arrests and detention follow a pattern of seeking to intimidate and silence civil society activists and groups in Zimbabwe who work in support of human, civil and political rights.

ACTSA Director Tony Dykes said "Our immediate concern is the safety and well being of Okay Machisa and his colleagues and we urge they be granted bail immediately. Our continuing concern is the intimidation, harassment and attempt to silence civil society organisations and human rights activists, which some in Zimbabwe see as a threat to their power. It is Zimbabweans who must decide who leads them but they must be able to do so freely. It is important that work to enable people to understand and exercise their rights be defended and supported."


1. Police arrested Okay Machisa on 14 January. On 16 January he was denied bail and remanded in custody until 30 January. He is charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud and alternatively publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the state. The charges are in connection with electoral registration and voter education. Also accused are, Farai Benny, Tatenda Chinaka, Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya.

2. Police raided the Zimrights Office on 13 December 2012 and arrested Leo Chamahwinya. Deputy National Programme Coordinator on charges of conducting illegal voter registration. He has been detained since then.

3. The Zimbabwean NGOs which were raided by police in 2012 include Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), Counselling Services Unit (CSU), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Election Resource Centre (ERC), and Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ)

4. Zanu PF at their conference in December 2012 said they would instruct the government to deregister NGOs which deviated from their mandate.

5. Zimbabwe will hold presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

6. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) is the successor organisation to the British Anti Apartheid Movement. It campaigns for justice, rights and development in solidarity with the people of southern Africa.

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