ZPP condemns sustained targeting of dissenting voices

Pro-democracy campaigner, Makomborero Haruzivishe

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has urged the government to stop forthwith, the sustained targeting of dissenting voices in the country.

“Citizens cannot continue to live in fear as this country is supposed to be a fully-fledged democracy where the freedom of expression is guaranteed, and where ideas can flow, and where civil society, political parties, and the general population play their role of contributing to a better Zimbabwe without fear of any repercussions, the ZPP said in a statement.

On 17 February 2021, State security agents arrested pro-democracy campaigner Makomborero Haruzivishe in what has been described as a mafia-style, the ZPP reported.

Haruzivishe was ambushed by men in two unmarked vehicles and shots were allegedly fired as they subdued him and later took him to Harare Central Police Station where they surrendered him to the police.

ZPP said Haruzivishe is among the faces of dissent and resistance against the government’s suppression of human rights and has been at the forefront of leading demonstrations against the abduction of Tawanda Muchehiwa and the involvement of the state-security-linked Impala Car Rental in the abduction.

Haruzivishe is being charged with kidnapping, participating in a gathering to promote public violence, and contravening COVID-19 protocols.

Earlier, on 11 February, the outspoken Norton Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa was arrested at his Borrowdale house while addressing a press conference on his alleged relationship scandals. MDC Alliance youth activists Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri were also arrested by the police who accused them of undermining their authority The duo petitioned the police to release the protestors citing that they risked infecting them with Covid-19 as they were no social distancing in the overloaded police vehicle. They were detained for eight days before being released on bail.

Zimbabwean authorities on Friday 26 February 2021 arrested student leaders, juveniles, and a journalist in a fresh crackdown on human rights defenders.

First to be arrested by ZRP officers, the ZPP reported, were three students namely Richard Paradzayi, Paidamoyo Masaraure, and Liam Kanengoni, who was apprehended at Harare Magistrates Court on allegations of unnecessary movement.

Paradzayi, Masaraure and Kanengoni were detained at Harare Central Police Station.

ZRP officers also arrested Kumbirai Mafunda, a freelance journalist inside Harare Magistrates Court, where he was covering the appearance in the court of Haruzivishe.

Earlier in the month, police in Machipisa, Highfields, Harare, had briefly detained NewsDay journalist Simbarashe Sithole and disregarded his pleas that he was a media practitioner rightfully conducting his duties.

The human rights body argues that these cases just go to show how the state continues to use the police and the judiciary to stifle the voices of human rights and political activists and journalists.

“Every person has a right to personal liberty, as enshrined in Section 2 of the Constitution, and where that liberty is to be deprived, it has to be done lawfully ‘ upon reasonable suspicion that he or she has committed or is about to commit a criminal offence. Where someone is arrested, they have, according to Section 69, “the right to a fair and public trial within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial court.”

“What is being witnessed in Zimbabwe is where opposition political activists and civil society actors being arrested and detained for weeks without getting bail in what clearly an attempt to subdue alternative voices. In respect of the above, Zimbabwe cannot continue to be in the spotlight for human rights violations as this affects, not just its image, but also stifles any growth and development.”

The following are the ZPP recommendations:

  • We repeat our calls for the government to do the right thing and open up democratic space and allow citizens to express themselves as espoused in the Constitution of
  • It is only in a society where citizens are free to express themselves that development, economic, political and social, takes places. The government needs to adopt and accept criticism as constructive and allow a free flow of ideas
  • The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission should be proactive by not only acting on complaints received but by compelling the government to observe human rights. As a commission that is supposed to be independent and is meant to protect the people from human rights abuses perpetrated by those in powerful positions, the ZHRC should take a bot approach, and deal with the human rights violations targeting the general, defenceless

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende