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  • Zimbabwe Briefing - Issue 102
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
    February 14, 2013

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    Six NGOs attacked within two (2) months

    Zimbabwe Human Rights Association is appalled with the pace and growing trend in state interference with NGO work in the country. The civil society sector has seen six of its players being raided by the police and some drawn to courts between the month of January and February. Sadly, ever since we have heard of volumes of accusations labeled against civil society actors, we are yet to learn of a single entity that has been convicted or just found on the wrong side of the law.

    Initially it was ZimRights that was attacked with the tormenting dating back to the 13th December 2012 when its Deputy National Programmes Coordinator was arrested allegedly for manufacturing fake voter registration slips. To follow was the laying of charges on ZimRights as an institution and the arrest of Okay Machisa the director, on 14 January and detained in remand prison for two weeks.

    Last week the nation heard of the arrest of Bulawayo based National Youths for Development Trust officials reportedly for possessing voter registration slips. The offices for the organisation were subsequently searched and some material collected to police station. The Bulawayo incident coincided with the summoning of Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo to Plumtree for questioning by police over a meeting the non-governmental organisation (NGO) held in the area. Two days into this week, Zimbabwe Peace Project (Harare), National Association for Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGO Masvingo Office) and Masvingo based Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) were raided. It is sad but happening.

    The worrying and suspicious part of it is that the trend usually surfaces when the nation is heading for some crucial national events. The situation that has arisen is reminiscent of the period leading to the 2008 election. Taking into account that there is a possible referendum and general elections thereafter, we begin to think that this is the reason why civil society operations are curtailed. It is indeed tempting to conclude that some political players perceive the industry as a threat to their interests. ZimRights is of the view that civil society should speak with one voice before the whole sector is rendered obsolete. We also concur that the sector has to borrow a leaf from Pastor Martin Niemoller's teachings as quoted by Pedzisai Ruhanya that;

    First they came for the Communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Communist Then they came for the Socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist . . . . . . Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me.

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