CIZC STATEMENT ON: POLICE REPRESSION AND ERRANCY: WOZA ARRESTS AND BARRING OF NEW ZIMBABWE LECTURE SERIES DISCUSSION FORUM
- Last Updated on 10 February 2012
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CIZC STATEMENT ON:
POLICE REPRESSION AND ERRANCY: WOZA ARRESTS AND BARRING OF NEW ZIMBABWE LECTURE SERIES DISCUSSION FORUM
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, unreservedly condemns the arrest of Prominent Social Justice Activist and Coordinator of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Jenni Williams and 13 other members of WOZA, in Bulawayo on the 7th of February 2012, after staging a peaceful march in the city. Williams was arrested in full glare of officials from the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC). The Coalition also registers its contempt for the forceful banning of a Public discussion, under the New Zimbabwe Lecture series which was billed to be addressed by prominent intellectual and one of the world's leading Political Economists, Profesor Patric Bond, in Harare recently. Both incidents have reignited concerns around the conduct of the Police Force, and are recent testimonies to the reality that freedom is still an aspiration in Independent Zimbabwe.
The 2 incidents cited above are a clear indication that security agents remain errant, and should be reigned in. The fact that these actions continue during the subsistence of the Inclusive Government whose critical mandate is to return the country to democratic legitimacy premised on the rule of law, is itself telling on the performance of the Inclusive Government.
The continued arrests of members of civil society and the Broader pro-democracy movement, the hinderence of public discussions and the sustained incarceration of MDC Youth Assembly President, Solomon Madzore and 7 other prisoners of conscience without trial are poignant, and a reality check on any pretence that Zimbabwe was getting over the hill in terms of undemocratic and authoritarian rule. Mr. Thabani Nyoni, Spokesperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition believes that
"The actions are part and parcel of a premeditated attempt at well-calculated democratic reversals being championed by a political cabal within the civilian and security factions of ZANU PF. The long incacerations effectively mean that some Prisoners of conscience are already serving sentences without convictions €
The negative political culture of using repression and cohession, as well as the use of prosecution as a means of persecution, seems to be the order of the day for state security agents and the Police.
The arrest of WOZA activists on the 7th of February 2012 is not the first time that WOZA's postive activism and love has been met with hurt, hate and incaceration. WOZA activists who won a high court case last year, which had effect of illegalising some sections of the Public Order and Security Act, have found themselves in the past spending more time behind bars than in their homes. In 2010 alone and 2011, Jenni Williams and WOZA Activists were arrested €¦.times, with one of those incidents seeing Magodhlonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams staying behind bars for an inordinately long time of €¦.days.
This is not the first time this year that the partisan police have unjustifiably arrested civil society actors and percieved members of the Pro-democracy movement. On the 28th of January, police arrested Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Spokesperson, Stan Zvorwadza, who is now out on bail. Since the beginning of the year, more than 60 MDC supporters have been arbitrarily arrested in Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo under unsubstantiated charges; in clear cases of persecution by prosecution, reminiscent of the Rhodesia Front tactics , which ZANU PF uses without shame.
The irony is that, perpetrators of political violence who are well known ZANU PF supporters and apologists remain scot-free even in cases where crimes are carried out in broad day light and full glare of the Police such as disruption of Parliamentary Public hearings and the violence witnessed during the First All Stakeholders Constitutional Conference in July 2009 at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. In some instances, they are escorted by the police.
The Coalition condemns in the strongest words this selective application of the law and the continued arrests of citizens for political gain. This level of impunity is unacceptable especially when some political actors are misguidedly talking about having elections without reforms.
The constitution of Zimbabwe and regional and international treaties including the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) clearly state that every individual shall be equal before the law yet in practice, police in Zimbabwe deliberately target civil society actors and MDC supporters as a way of thwarting public dissent.
The Coalition reminds the inclusive government that it has both a moral and legal obligation to protect the rights of citizens and to ensure that an environment is created which fosters public debate and discussion and which encourages civil participation in engagement with key national and political processes.
In view of the impending conclusion of the constitution making process and possible elections, the inclusive government should live up to commitments made in the Zimbabwe Constitution and international human treaties which they acceeded to by allowing greater citizen engagement through avoiding unwarranted arrests and long incarcerations without trial.
In light of the developments above, The Coalition demands that the inclusive government;
1. Reigns in members of the police force who continue to disrespect the rights of citizens and disregard the rule of law
2. Ensures that Solomon Madzore and other 7 Prisoners of conscience, who are currently on remand, are removed from remand and are awarded a fair trial.
3. Ensures that citizens are allowed to engage in meaningful debate and discussion on key national and global issues.
4. Ensure that civil society organisations are allowed to fulfil their mandates without undue interference from both government and unruly elements within political parties.
Released by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Contact Person: Mr. Tabani Nyoni (Spokesperson)
Tel : 0712642932