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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • ERC Director to hand himself over to police as volunteers remain in custody
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    May 13, 2013

    The Election Resource Centre (ERC) Director, Twanda Chimhini will today, Monday 13 May, hand himself over to the police in a bid to secure the release of the three volunteers that were arrested by police in Borrowdale on Saturday 11 May.

    The three volunteers namely, Farai Saungweme, Wadzanai Nyaku and Moses Chikura have been in custody for the last 48 hours after police handed them over to the Law and Order Section after their section.

    The trio has been carrying out activities under the ERC’s popular1st Time Voter Generation (X1G) campaign aimed at encouraging youths to register as voters when they were inexplicably arrested.

    Speaking to the Crisis Report, the ERC Director, Tawanda Chimhini speculated that the arrests could be a ploy to unjustifiably charge the organisation under Section 20 of the Electoral Act, which forbids individuals from conducting voter education without seeking pernission from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

    “It is not clear what they are being charge with but the likelihood is that this could be a way of preferring charges against the organisation itself. It’s possible that we may face charges of engaging in voter education illegally but such a charge could be unfound because the X1G project has been ongoing for months now and it is an exercise meant to encourage the youth to register to vote and not educate them on how to vote,” said Chimhini who revealed that he would be handing himself over to the police later today as a representative of the organisation.

    Chimhini said the arrests were totally unwarranted but were hardly surprising given that there was an emerging pattern of harassment that his organization had noted of late as some members of the police took it upon themselves to disrupt their activities.

    “Just last Wednesday, we had the police barring us from carrying out out activities at the Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo. They informed us that we need to get clearance from the Governor before we could encourage young people to register. I don’t think that it’s necessary for me to be granted permission to speak to the youth who are my peers about registering to vote,” said Chimhini.

    He said it was baffling that the police were disrupting their work when the X1G initiative had received a lot of traction among the youth and electoral stakeholders such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) who have been actively participating in the ZiFM and Star Fm radio programs that the RC was flighting.

    “We have had ZEC officials featuring on out radio programs on ZiFM and Star Fm and we have also had them on board for some of our other initiatives around encouraging the youth to register. If these activities were in contravention of any statute then we expect that ZEC would have informed us. So these arrests are hard to explain,” said Chimhini.

    Chimhini revealed that the three volunteers were holding up well although one of them was experiencing depression and had not been able to eat since Saturday whilst the families of the volunteers were not pleased given that their incarcerated relatives had not committed any crime.

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