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on the arrest of civil society leaders in Victoria Falls
in Zimbabwe Coalition
October 26, 2009
Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition strongly condemns the arrests of the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO) Director,
Mr. Cephas Zinhumwe and Chairperson Ms. Dadirai Chikwengo on the
25th of October 2009 at the Director's Summer School in Victoria
Falls under Section 25.1.b of the nefarious Public
Order and Security Act (POSA). The charges arose from a statement
issued by civil society leaders at the Summer School, expressing
concern on the governance crisis, and the slow progress with regards
to implementation of the Global
Political Agreement, which the police deemed political.
The Police alleged
that the School, held annually since 2006 to provide a space for
enhancement of leadership capacities for civil society leaders,
was a political meeting, which needed clearance from them. The Coalition
believes, and asserts, that there is nothing criminal about Civic
Society Directors meeting under the auspices of their mother body,
or even Zimbabweans engaging in political activity, as it is their
constitutional right to do so.
Ms. Chikwengo and Mr. Zinhumwe's arrests come as no surprise
as members of the police force continue demanding notifications
from civil society for internal meetings, and also as part of ZANU
PF's only known response to mounting pressure for it to comply
with what it acceded to under the GPA, and Zimbabweans' calls
for greater freedoms and meaningful reforms.
2009, The Coalition was forced to secure a police clearance for
an Annual General Meeting while the Coordinator; Mr. McDonald Lewanika
was summoned to the Harare Central Police Station for convening
a Democracy and Governance Award ceremony without notification on
the 25th of September. These actions by the Zimbabwean police are
in direct violation of the Freedoms of Assembly and Association
as protected in Zimbabwe's constitution and in Article 12
of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which calls on Parties ' . . . to
work together in a manner which guarantees the full implementation
and realization of the right to freedom of association and assembly . . . '.
These rights are further enshrined in the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights and the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights to which Zimbabwe
is a state party.
of political space and disrespect for fundamental freedoms come
amid growing concerns over utterances made by members of the Zimbabwe
National Army down playing the critical role of civil society organizations
and threatening decisive action against those who engage in political
activities. The developments also come against the background of
further deterioration of the Zimbabwean political environment which
saw the re-arrest of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer
General, Roy Bennett before his subsequent release on bail; the
raiding of an MDC executive house in Highlands on charges of possessing
stolen arms that allegedly went missing from Pomona barracks, the
arrest of two MDC Members of Parliament, Honorable Reggie Moyo and
Honorable Albert Mhlanga in Bulawayo and the reincarnation of politically
motivated violence across the country.
and arrests are clearly vindictive and can be without doubt attributed
to the announcement to "disengage from ZANU PF" by the
Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe is currently at a standstill with minimal progress recorded
towards addressing key issues of concern to civic society and Zimbabweans
at large, which include reform of state institutions including the
security services and police force and repeal of repressive laws
including POSA to ensure a smooth transition to democracy. The Coalition
believes that the absence of a clear roadmap towards sanitizing
key government institutions and the continued presence of repressive
laws is negatively affecting the country's progress towards
improving the political environment, which, to all intents and purposes
impacts negatively on the social and economic environment.
therefore demands the following;
1. The immediate
and unconditional release of Mr. Zinhumwe and Ms. Chikwengo as well
as their co-accused Mr. Godwin Phiri, since their continued incarceration
and arraignment is unjustified and illegal
2. That, ZANU
PF and partisan elements of the Police force should desist from
using the law as a tool for intimidation and victimization of citizens
going about their legitimate business.
3. That, ZANU
PF and its cohorts in the state should recant from the easy resort
to violence, cohesion, victimisation and intimidation of concerned
and dissenting voices, and should instead move towards dealing with
matters of concern that would have been raised.
4. That, the
state and its institutions should demonstrate respect for fundamental
rights and observance of the rule of law.
5. That, meaningful
institutional reform be put in place to ensure that the police and
other uniformed forces act within the confines of both the constitution,
and acts governing their operations.6. That, repressive and colonial
style laws, especially POSA, which is used to suffocate freedoms
of the people of Zimbabwe, be repealed.
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