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Political violence report: November 2006 - Overview
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
January 23, 2007

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The month of November saw the annual celebration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence by various sectors of the Zimbabwean society countrywide. Ironically, in a country which would seem devoted to the issues of the protection of women and men against politically motivated gender violence, as exemplified by the debates on the Domestic Violence Bill in Parliament, the month of November saw no exception in the harassment of women who were celebrating this event. On 29 November 2006 at 11:00 am women from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) held a peaceful demonstration near Mhlahladlela government offices in Bulawayo to commemorate the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence and to launch a document the group calls 'The People's Charter'. The document reportedly advocates for affordable healthcare, education and housing in Zimbabwe. During the reading, anti - riot police arrived and started assaulting the women and arrested 57 of them for having an illegal demonstration. It is reported that the women were assaulted whilst in detention. Furthermore, 23 of the arrested demonstrators were released on the night of 29 November for medical care. However, 34 other members of WOZA remained in police custody and were only released on 1 December 2006 after having appeared in court. The Human Rights Forum notes with concern the Government of Zimbabwe's continued assault on members of WOZA in 2006. It should be noted that the harassment and torture of these women or any other citizens by the police, army, CIO operatives or any other state agents, will not negate Zimbabwe's moral obligation to provide accessible, affordable, available health care, education, housing nor address the many other concerns raised by these women. Moreover, the 7th acquittal of WOZA members by the Zimbabwean courts lends credence to the notion that the allegations levelled against them over the years are vexatious and frivolous.

On 1 November the NCA alleges that close to 250 of its members who had converged at the Africa Unity Square were heavily assaulted and dispersed around 14:00 hours by the police for participating in an illegal demonstration. The members had converged on the scene from various cities countrywide to demonstrate for a new constitution, including Mutare, Gweru, Bulawayo and Harare. On the same day, the chairperson of the NCA, Lovemore Madhuku, was arrested at the Africa Unity Square allegedly for having organised the demonstration for a new constitution by members of his grouping. The police detained Madhuku on that day around 17:15 hours at Harare Central Police Station without notifying him that he was under arrest. It is reported that Madhuku was only charged the following day at 16:00 hours wherein the police argued he had organised the demonstrations without informing the regulating authority as prescribed by POSA. However, by not informing the victim of the reasons for his arrest, the police violated Madhuku's constitutional rights as set out in section 13 (3) and section 18(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Moreover, the Human Rights Forum notes that the use of national legislation such as POSA by the Government of Zimbabwe in defiance of its international laws that protect the right to freedom of association and expression is unlawful and irregular. On the use of national legislation which is not in conformity with international human rights law, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, has argued in a case, which although dealing with the specific question of freedom of expression, states a principle of general application, which deserves to be quoted at length.

Governments should avoid restricting rights, and have special care with regard to those rights protected by constitutional or international human rights law. No situation justifies the wholesale violation of human rights. . . . to allow national law to have precedent over the international law of the Charter would defeat the purpose of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter. International human rights standards must always prevail over contradicting national law.

A number of Zimbabwean citizens have been assaulted or arrested over the past few years under the General Laws Amendment Act facing allegations of interfering with President Robert Mugabe's motorcade. In a case that would support these allegations, one Simba Mabasa, a driver for the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), was reportedly arrested and detained for four days at Harare Central Police Station after allegedly interfering with President Robert Mugabe's motorcade along Julius Nyerere way in Harare. It is alleged that Mabasa failed to give way to the convoy which was coming from Harare International Airport following the President's return from a COMESA meeting in Djibouti. Mabasa was driving a TIMB shuttle bus, which was impounded by the police during the arrest. All passengers on the shuttle bus were ordered to disembark. Mabasa was released after four days of rigorous interrogation and the bus was also released back to the organisation on the same day.

Totals: 1 November 2006 - 30 November 2006

Totals: 1 November 2006 - 30 November 2006  

Cumulative Totals: 1 January 2006 - 30 November 2006

Cumulative Totals: 1 January 2006 - 30 November 2006

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