By Nkosana Dlamini
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has accused government of applying Rhodesian style tactics to clamp down on civil society activists who are pursuing lawful activities.
In a statement Friday, the pro-democracy group also accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of violating the country’s supreme law through arbitrary arrests on civil society activists.
“The strategies to clampdown on civil society organisations and entrench authoritarian rule are reminiscent of the Ian Smith regime and go against the ideals of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle,” CiZC Youth Committee Chairperson Douglas Tigere said.
Smith was the last in the line of white rulers from the erstwhile colonial Rhodesian government which visited horrendous brutalities on the black population.
The Zanu PF led government has similarly been accused of applying the tactics used by the country’s former rulers to silence its critics.
Among the most recent cases is the recent arrest of the pro-democracy group’s spokesperson Obert Masaraure over the mysterious death of a colleague Roy Issa, who plunged from the seventh floor of a Harare hotel in 2016.
Masaraure’s murder accusations have largely been described as an act of persecution on the firebrand activist.
Last month, some anti-riot police swooped on a Harare prayer meeting that was organised by Bishop Ancelimo Magaya’s Zimbabwe Divine Destiny and arrested some clerics while accusing them of holding an unsanctioned political meeting.
Lately, police arrested disrupted two events which were being hosted by the National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) and the Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD).
Police detained participants at the meeting who were later on released without charge while three IYWD staff members and a NAYO volunteer are in detention facing charges of convening a meeting without notifying authorities.
The two organisations were holding separate constitutional awareness meetings with local residents when police besieged the venues of the meetings.
Added Tigere, “The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) strongly condemns the continued systematic criminalisation of civil society work by the State.”
Tigere was up in arms with the law enforcement agency he accused of violating the country’s constitution.
“CiZC implores the police to uphold Section 58 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which guarantees freedom of assembly.
“We note with great concern that the police, who are supposed to be custodians of the constitution, continue to be among the major violators of the country’s supreme law,” he said.
“As the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we shall stand firm in our defence of the democratic space and we condemn in the strongest of terms attempts at further shrinking the democratic space and the quest for a one party state.
“…These despotic strategies are short lived and will be resisted by progressive Zimbabweans.”