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NANGO condemns arbitrary arrest and detention of NANGO Board Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe (NANGO)
October 26, 2009

On the 26th of October 2009 representatives of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation ostensibly acting 'on instructions from above' arrested NANGO Board Chairperson Mrs Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe. The arbitrary arrest and detention of Chikwengo and Zinhumwe is yet another incident that shows the relentless state-sponsored and condoned victimisation of Civil Society actors and Human Rights Defenders It is alleged that the two contravened sections of the repressive Public Order and Security Act by convening the annual NGO Directors Summer School and holding a 'public and/or political meeting without police clearance'. [The Directors Summer School is a meeting convened by NANGO to give NGO leaders an opportunity to share ideas and collective courses of action it is neither public nor political.] This year the Summer School was officially opened by the Minister of Public Service and Social Welfare.

At the end of the Summer School the 120 NGO leaders in attendance released a statement expressing concern at the Inclusive Government's slow progress in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis and urging immediate action by the SADC as the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement. The police will argue that the release of a statement renders the meeting political.

NANGO condemns in the strongest terms the arbitrary arrest and detention of Chikwengo and Zinhumwe and urges an immediate halt to the continued victimisation of Civil Society actors. In particular, NANGO:

  • Calls for the immediate dropping of the spurious charges raised against Chikwengo and Zinhumwe,
  • Demands an immediate halt to the state sponsored victimisation of Civil Society Actors and Human Rights Defenders,
  • Further demands, the urgent repeal of repressive pieces of legislation and stronger efforts by the Inclusive government to halt the selective application of the law, impunity and the rampant disregard for the rule of law,
  • Urges greater urgency to the legislative and Institutional reform processes outlined in the Global Political Agreement as this will facilitate the repeal of repressive pieces of legislation and enable Zimbabwe to achieve a professional police force and independent judiciary,
  • Insists on the need to create human rights protection mechanisms such as an independent Human Rights Commission to safeguard the enjoyment of the fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and association vital to the sustenance of democracy.
  • Commits to contribute to efforts to improve the strained State-Civil Society relations which continue to be jeopardised by the relentless state sponsored and the condoned victimisation of Human Rights Defenders and Activists.

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