Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe police raids instil fear

2013-03-13 19:06

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare - Zimbabwe rights activists say they are suffering under a police crackdown designed to be an ominous warning ahead of a constitutional referendum this week and elections later in the year.

Since late last year President Robert Mugabe's police force has detained staff from prominent civil groups and raided offices of election and human rights monitors.

Violence has not hit the levels seen during the bloody 2008 election, which saw as many as 200 people killed and many more disappeared, arrested or tortured.

Nor has it reached the levels of 2005's "Operation Murambatsvina" or "drive out the trash," which left an estimated 700 000 people homeless.

But rights groups believe they could be seeing a precursor of worse to come.

"Their intention is to intimidate civic society," Mcdonald Lewanika, executive director of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition told AFP.

"This is a clear calculated move to target certain civic society organisations to intimidate rights activists."

Police have justified the crackdown saying their targets were civic organisations they tagged "a serious security threat."

But Zimbabwe-watchers say that the arrest of top rights activist Jestina Mukoko in particular Mugabe's Zanu-PF intended to send a clear message.

Zanu-PF control police

Last week she was charged with a litany of offences, including operating an unregistered organisation, smuggling radios into the country and broadcasting without a licence.

"It is not by coincidence that Jestina has been targeted, everyone knows what happened to her when she was abducted and tortured," said Lewanika.

"The police are acting as an extension of Zanu-PF."

Mukoko was previously arrested in 2008 and detained at an undisclosed location before being taken to the notorious Chikurubi prison, a maximum-security centre outside Harare.

Her lawyers claimed state agents severely tortured her and forced her to confess to banditry and treason.

She was charged in 2009 with plotting to overthrow Mugabe, but the charges were later dismissed.

What has shocked rights groups about the latest crackdown is that it has come under a government in which Mugabe shares power with pro-democracy leader, now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Political analyst Clever Bere blames Tsvangirai for not putting enough pressure on Mugabe to halt the harassment.

"The issue of police targeting pro-democracy has not started today, this has happened during the course of the unity government," Bere said.

Sick society

"The MDC should have done more, particularly when the inclusive government started," he said. "They have a minister of home affairs and above all a Prime Minister of government."

"If they had acted enough, this persecution of civic society would not have lasted to this day."

Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the pro-democracy group the National Constitutional Assembly insists the problems run beyond the government, and speak to state for Zimbabwean democracy.

"This shows the nature of our society that people allow police to arrest people for distributing radios, it shows the failure of our society," Madhuku said.

"Our problems go deeper than the blame on politicians, people are not protesting to say what is happening is wrong."

The current raids, he added, are the "reality of what is happening. These are not signs of what will happen."

"What more does one want to see."

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  zimbabwe elections  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
X

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.