«L’OBSERVATOIRE EL OBSERVATORIO pour la Protection des Défenseurs para la Protección de los Defensores de des Droits de l’Homme Derechos Humanos ...»
Mr. Synodia Magaya and 205 others NCA members - Harare
On July 25, 2007, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police arrested NCA activists who took to streets soon after the opening of Parliament by President Robert Mugabe in order to call for a new Constitution. The police did not pounce on them immediately, but followed their peaceful activists closely. However, after the NCA activists dispersed, the police moved to arrest and assault some of the activists in the City Centre before taking them to Harare Central Police Station. More NCA activists were arrested by the police at the NCA offices around 5 pm and were severely assaulted before they were taken to Harare Central Police Station. In all, 206 NCA activists, including Mr. Synodia Magaya, were taken into police custody. At around 6 pm, the police, CIO operatives, ZANU-PF officials and militias started to brutalise the detained persons. They were informed that they would not Interestingly, some of the NCA members are retired police officers who subscribe to the objectives of the NCA. These members have many times provided techniques to NCA members on how to handle demonstration and breakups by the police.
NCA has argued that free, fair and democratic elections must be held under a new constitution; Elections cannot be postponed beyond 2008 and must be held as soon as possible under a new constitution, all draconian laws such as POSA and AIPPA must be repealed and that the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe must end now, through good governance under a new Constitution.
Also, the NCA has continued to call upon Mbeki to be impartial during the SADC talks between ZANU PF and MDC, has condemned government’s clamp down on the opposition, mistreatment of civilians and abuse of their rights in various statements.
be detained, but would however receive a thorough beating in order to deter them from taking to the streets. They were subjected to intense assault and humiliation from 6 pm to 11 pm, when they were released. Distress signals were immediately sent and ambulances and other private vehicles spent the greater part of the night ferrying the injured persons to various hospitals scattered around the Capital. Most of the activists had broken limps and/or deep lacerations and some were detained and spent several days under treatment and observation. Three to four people, including a 63-year-old woman, lost their lives after the incident. A notice of intention to sue covering all 206 NCA activists for unlawful arrest and torture was drafted and filed on January 20, 2008.
Attempted bomb on Mr. Madhuku’s family
In the early hours of January 1, 2007, a petrol bomb was thrown at the home in Waterfalls of Dr. Lovemore Madhuku, NCA Chairperson. Luckily the petrol bomb dowsed before it had blown up his cars in a garage. Even with the call to the Waterfalls police to intervene, very little concern was given to this case, the police claiming that they did not have transport to get to the house.
Sharing with the mission, Dr. Madhuku told that that he had been in and out of prison 20 times or more for his advocacy for a new Constitution and change in governance.
Arrest of Mr. Tapera Kapuya during the SADC Peoples’ Summit During the SADC heads of States meeting in August 2007, a Peoples’ Summit was organised parallel to the meeting, in Zambia. At this occasion, Mr. Tapera Kapuya, member of the NCA, was arrested and detained by the Zambian special branch apparently working in cahoots with Zimbabwean intelligence operatives on August 15,
2007. He was targeted because he had a poster that was demanding that President Mugabe gives the people of Zimbabwe a people driven constitution before the March 2008 elections. He was only released after six hours of detention.
According to Mrs. Moyo, leader of the NCA in Bulawayo, unlike earlier years when the local authorities were not bothered with NCA meetings and demonstrations, their attitude has changed since 2007. As the 2008 elections draw nearer, the grip by the Government authorities on the activities of critical organisations like NCA has become tighter, largely because the Government is afraid of any one denouncing the lack of respect of human rights and bad governance.
As required by POSA, holders of public meetings have to inform the police before the meeting is held of their intention to hold such fora. However, some of the Bulawayo police authorities and local authorities have taken it upon themselves to create even more stringent requirements for human rights defenders to hold meetings. In some instances, the authorities have required NCA before organising public meetings to present to them the meeting agenda, which the police are at liberty to dictate on and to change in terms of duration of the meeting, the choice of speakers and at what time it should be scheduled.
In addition, a number of NCA leaders continue to be victimised and harassed, especially during days preceding planned meetings and demonstrations to the extent that many of the leaders keep away from their homes days before and days after the meetings just to ensure their safety. Police and the CIO normally ‘visit’ the homes of the NCA leaders, intimidate them and their families in a bid to prevent them from holding such politically sensitive meetings24.
6. Christian Alliance
Officially launched at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Bulawayo on February 3, 2006, the Christian Alliance is an organised network of Christian leaders and organisations whose purpose is to be “instrumental in resolving the crisis in the country peacefully and permanently so that Zimbabweans can again live in freedom, peace and prosperity”.
Mr. Wilson Mugabe and seven others members of Christian Alliance - Kadoma
On January 28, 2007, the Christian Alliance convened a meeting in Kewada Hall to mark its launch in Kadoma. A total of 69 pastors and 260 lay people were in attendance. As is the norm during such gatherings, there were to be In 2007, during the human rights day celebrations organized by ZimRights, organisations like ZCTU, NCA and Bulawayo Agenda (a Zimbabwean NGO whose aim is to provide a platform for citizens to exchange their views through public meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences) were cancelled from the list of participants by the police because of their record of criticism of government.
talks and prayers over the subject of corruption. However, police stormed into the church building in the middle of proceedings and arrested eight of the pastors, accusing them of preaching politics and inciting the people to turn against the government by praying against corruption. A video camera that had been used to capture the events of the day was confiscated and the pastors were detained at Kadoma central police station.
Police indicated that they would release the accused persons but this was later as local officers received fresh “instructions from above” to further detain them. The police then proceeded to their aggressive interrogation throughout the night, wherein they underwent verbal abuse and attempts to get them to denounce each other. All accused were taken to court the following day and released on bail, with the matter remanded to March 5, 2007.
The State Public Prosecutor opted to drop charges against five of the pastors and an application for refusal of remand was set to be heard on April 23, 2007. The magistrate ruled that the police had not adduced sufficient evidence to warrant the placing of the remaining three pastors on remand and were then ordered to proceed by way of summons.
Pastor Mugabe shared with the mission that because the Christian Alliance was now associated with the opposition25, a number of prayer meetings and prayer rallies were disrupted and in some instances even cancelled with posters announcing such meetings torn, vandalised and at times sealing off the venues where these meetings are planned26. Police officers in some instances refused to grant permission to the Christian Alliance to organise public prayers mostly because of the incident that had happened in Kadoma on January 28, 2007. A number of pastors like Pastor Mwehegensi who were key in organising such prayer meetings under the “Save the Zimbabwe” Campaign have been summoned by the CIO a number of times and regularly beaten up for organising prayer meetings focusing on the governance of the country and criticising the President Mugabe27.
B. Human rights defenders of economic, social and cultural rights Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) - MUTARE28 1.
ZCTU was formed in 1981 and has key Zimbabwe political figures like Messrs. Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe (ZANU-PF) at the heart of its formation29. ZCTU works towards promoting, advancing and safeguarding the economic, social and constitutional freedoms of workers by securing legal, political, democratic and good governance framework in Zimbabwe through strengthening its capacity and independence and those of its affiliates.
ZCTU has been classified as one of the “enemies” of the Government largely because of its criticism of the Government’s human rights practice and policy towards workers and the general public. Because of the thin line separating trade unionists and political activists in Zimbabwe30, since the year 2000 ZCTU has continued to suffer at the hands of State appointed and established entities such as officers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Criminal Investigations Department, Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and various law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Reported cases of torture of ZCTU members remains on the increase and it has become a widespread phenomenon practiced with the tacit and explicit consent.
In addition, laws like the Labour Act Amendment No. 7 or the Incomes and Pricing Act have been used to retrench workers and especially those belonging to ZCTU. The Income and Pricing Act has also been used to regulate prices of especially informal workers amidst the economic crisis31. Many workers have as a result been forced out of business due to the economic crisis and inflation in Zimbabwe.
Paster Mugabe has many times been summoned by the CIO, questioning him about the work of Christian Alliance and accusing him of working with the MDC. They have threatened to “deal” with him if he does not stop this association.
Prayer meeting organised in Ncoba stadium in Gweru town in 2007.
Similarly faith based institutions like the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace have also been harassed by the police for their involvement in governance and peace issues. A number of times they have been summoned to the police to explain the objectives of meetings or even prayer meetings organized, sometimes they are detained for more than two hours and many times the police has demanded for a copy of the prayer that the commission plans to say during a prayer meeting. The psychological torture and frustration by the authorities many times deter Christians from participating in such fora.
ZANU-PF has set up a surrogate Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions headed by war veterans.
It is no wonder that the clashes between ZCTU and ZANU-PF have been regarded as fights between ”brother and brother”.
Before forming MDC, Mr. Morgan Tsvangarai was an active member of the ZCTU.
Workers - especially those in the informal sector were required by Government not to increase the prices of goods and services up to a certain amount. If they did, they would be breaking the law and would be arrested. Further to this, there has also been an attempt by Government to amend the Labour Act – in order to outlaw trade unions but this has failed so far.
Mr. John Ngirazi - Kadoma On July 27, 2007, the ZCTU held a seminar on HIV/AIDS at the Kadoma Ranch Motel. However, people claiming to be police officers disrupted the meeting, claiming that it was unsanctioned and unlawful. Four of the participants were taken to Kadoma police station for further interrogation. However, only Mr. John Ngirazi was detained and charged with contravening section 28(a) of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Despite the intervention of lawyers, Mr. John Ngirazi was detained up to July 30, when he was released without appearing in Court.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)322.