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of complaint about denial of permission to hold meetings, partisan
conduct & violation of citizens' right to freedom of assembly
February 24, 2012
Authority (Zimbabwe Republic Police, Lupane District)
Cc: Commissioner-General of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
Cc: Co-Ministers of Home Affairs
Cc: Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic)
Political Agreement negotiators
Cc: Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator in
LETTER OF COMPLAINT ABOUT DENIAL OF PERMISSION TO HOLD MEETINGS,
PARTISAN CONDUCT & VIOLATION OF CITIZENS' RIGHT TO FREEDOM
OF ASSEMBLY & SPEECH
serves to bring to your attention and seek your response to the
Bulawayo Agenda concerning
the conduct of the police in relation to the above-mentioned issues
which relate to the protection of human rights and the availability
of civic space for effective public participation in the current
national reform discourses and processes in Zimbabwe.
We are very
much concerned and disturbed by the increase in shrinking of the
civic operating space as evidenced by arrests and intimidation of
civic activists, journalists and even other political parties.
We are convinced
that the police have, at will, violated human rights and refused
to comply with the rule of law as provided for in the constitution
of Zimbabwe and many other relevant statutes.
make reference to the following cases:
Denial of clearance to hold public meetings (reference to Tsholotsho
On the 16th
of January, 2012, Bulawayo Agenda (BA) notified the Zimbabwe Republic
Police Regulating Authority for Lupane District (Matabeleland North)
of its intentions to hold public meetings in Tsholotsho and Lupane
on the 22nd and the 28th respectively, of the same month. On the
20th, the organization then got a response that the Tsholotsho meeting
should not go ahead but as has become the norm, no reason was given
despite our requests for these. The organization then approached
the Magistrates Court which gave a ruling that the meetings should
go ahead without notifying the police. In Tsholotsho, the organization
failed to act on the ruling because threatened to disrupt the meeting
and arrest its participants and Bulawayo Agenda officials. All this
was despite the fact that BA had followed the requirements of the
law as stipulated in the act which stipulates that individuals and
organizations seeking to hold public meetings should within 5 (five)
days notify the Regulating Authority. We therefore demand that there
be clarity and openness in the conduct of the police as the law
Contempt of Court, disruption of our meetings and detention of two
of our staff members
violation of the court ruling cited in part (a) above, the police
in Lupane District went on to disrupt the Lupane meeting and detained
two Bulawayo Agenda staff members on the 28th of January for holding
the meeting in Lupane as provided for, and as granted by the Magistrate's
court ruling. On the fateful 28th of January, the Lupane Officer
in Charge, only known as Harizivishe stated that the police 'do
not take orders from the Magistrates Court but their bosses'
and stopped the meeting and arrested the organization's officers.
We regard this
incident as an example of the many instances where conduct of the
police has been a total disregard of the rule of law in denying
the citizens of this country their fundamental human rights and
freedoms such as the Freedom of Assembly provided for in section
20 or our current Constitution. Considering the officer in question
indicated that he answers to 'bosses', we would like
to know which bosses he was referring to. This would help since
we were under the legitimate assumption that police officers, just
like all the other public servants in this country respect the sacredness
of the constitution more that individuals and where there is a constitution
versus individuals' scenario, the constitution must prevail.
In the same vein, we would want an explanation as to why there were
no arrests when a violent mob disrupted parliament official business,
and a group "war veterans" disrupted Constitutional
Parliamentary Committee (Copac) meeting. There is a clear selective
application of the law. One other example is the fact that the state
controlled press journalists (The Sunday Mail, 05-11 February, 2012)
who clearly breached the Official
Secrets Act (Chapter 11:09) by publicizing official correspondence
between the Prime Minister and the President of the country have
not been arrested or even questioned on their behavior!
have witnessed the arrests peace loving and law abiding innocent
citizens of this country such as the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe and Women
of Zimbabwe Arise staff and members. We seek clarity on these
matters, particularly the interest of the police in not just persecuting
Zimbabwean citizens but also in defying court orders.
We are interested
in knowing if there is a realization by the police that if such
conduct persists; the country's citizenry will fail to effectively
participate in the forthcoming stages in the constitution making
and ultimate elections for the ushering in of a people's government.
We also want
to know is there is a realization that this conduct has a potential
of slipping the country deeper into internal conflict that will
further disperse Zimbabweans and be blight on the regional and international
attempts at democratization, development and peace.
In view of the
above issues raised; as Bulawayo Agenda, we believe that progress
in this country can only take place when;
1. The Zimbabwe
Republic Police and other security institutions are accountable,
transparent, Independent and non-partisan in discharging their constitutional
2. There is
respect for the rule of law and due process of the law in and between
our public institutions like the courts and parliament.
3. There is
comprehensive security sector transformation aimed at depoliticization
of the police and other security sector institutions; training of
the security agents on human rights and restructuring of the institutions.
4. Agreed legislative
Reforms under GPA
such as Public
Order and Security Act, Access
to Information and Privacy Protection Act (AIPPA), Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) are effected.
call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to uphold the rule
of law, respect the public institutions like the court, and respect
and protect the right of all the citizens of Zimbabwe and allow
Zimbabweans to freely exchange ideas and participate in national/public
processes without undue interference.
We call upon
the signatories to the GPA and members of the Inclusive Government
to uphold the provisions of their agreement and prepare for the
completion of a new constitution and subsequent holding of credible,
free and fair national elections. We also call for a step up in
reviewing repressive laws such as POSA and AIPPA for Zimbabweans
to enjoy their liberties and exercise their freedoms and rights
without fear and intimidation.
We also implore
the negotiators and principals to the GPA to put Zimbabwe ahead
of sectional and party interests and allow the populace to freely
participate in key national processes for the realization of healing,
development and peace rather than continued conflict and underdevelopment.
We plead with
the SADC mediator to lead in ensuring that the current Zimbabwean
leadership respects the commitment of the region, the African Union
to the resolution of the Zimbabwean multi-faceted crisis and Zimbabweans'
aspirations by allowing a democratic transition;
of the role that SADC has already played;
call upon the regional body to closely monitor the human rights
situation in the country and the implementation of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) and exert enough pressure on parties to honor the
agreement in all its provisions.
Hoping for your
Bulawayo Agenda Trust
Visit the Bulawayo
Agenda fact sheet
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