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  • Treason charges against Munyaradzi Gwisai & others - Index of articles

  • Conviction of Zim human rights defenders for watching video clip on Egyptian protests is a strategy to silence critical voices ahead of planned elections
    Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
    March 21, 2012

    The Centre for Community Development In Zimbabwe (CCDZ) condemns in strongest terms the unjustifiable sentence which was granted to University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai and five other human rights defenders. Whilst the judgment seems lighter as compared to the maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, we strongly feel that the six activists were not even supposed to be tried for watching a video clip on the protests in Egypt. We further deplore the arrest of student and civic society activists just outside Rotten Row for showing solidarity with their colleagues. The charges against Gwisai and other activists are outrageous and have no place in a democratic country.

    The conviction of Gwisai and others is a clear violation of fundamental rights such as the right to freedom of association, assembly and conscience. This is retrogressive and indeed a sign that ZANU PF is in serious panic ahead of the planned elections. Whilst in this transitional period efforts should be aimed at creating an enabling and conducive environment, ZANU PF functionaries and partisan bureaucrats in government are frustrating democratic reforms.

    Draconian Laws such as Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information Privacy and Protection Act (AIPPA) have no space in a genuinely independent Zimbabwe. We further take this opportunity to deplore the illegal and unjustified ban of Non Governmental Organizations in Masvingo and other parts of the country. The ban of NGOs is identifiable with oppressive regimes who are obsessed with power and control, even regulating associational sphere. The ban of NGOs and incarceration of activists is part of a wider strategy by ZANU PF to close space ahead of the elections.

    We reiterate our position that the country is not conducive for the holding of elections. Without a level playing field, elections will continue to be self-legitimating rituals for ZANU PF. The holding of elections under the current hostile environment is tantamount to declaration of war. CCDZ will only support elections in a free and fair and peaceful environment. This is characterized by a new democratic constitution and Minimum Conditions of a Free and Fair Environment as enunciated by the Global Political Agreement.

    The harmonized elections planned for 2012 by ZANU PF are a recipe for disaster if they are allowed to go ahead without the necessary legislative and institutional reforms. We demand a new voters' register that is compiled by an impartial and independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and a new electoral law framework that allows all political contestants to campaign freely in any part of the country without any hindrances.

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