NGOs seek meeting with Chihuri

HARARE - Zimbabwe's non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have requested a meeting with police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri in connection with the arrest of three Counselling Services Unit (CSU) staffers.

The civil rights activists were arrested on allegations of providing material which was used to paint mainstream MDC graffiti at an information centre belonging to Zanu PF politburo member, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, in Mpopoma high density suburb in Bulawayo.

Addressing a press conference at the ZimRights offices in Harare on Thursday, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Abel Chikomo said civil society leaders will protest the arbitrary arrest to the authorities.

“We will be meeting the commissioner general of police Augustine Chihuri and Jomic to discuss the issue of the arrests of our members even in the face of having held a very successful all stakeholders’ conference,” Chikomo said.

“They have always argued and complained that we do not bring the issues to their attention and that is the reason for meeting with them,” said Chikomo.

Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Geza of CSU were arbitrarily arrested after police raided their CSU offices in Harare on Monday.

They have since been transferred to Bulawayo where they have been freed on bail.

Cephas Zinhumwe, executive director of National Association of New Governmental Organisations (Nango), said the arrests are a sign that state actors are not willing to act constitutionally.  

The unlawful detention of the three men is indicative of Sadc’s failure to enforce reforms of the security services as agreed in the Global Political Agreement, according to international rights group Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, Nango chairperson Effie Ncube said at a news conference in Bulawayo his organisation was taking the issue to the continental body African Union (AU).

Nango is worried that police have become partisan and were arresting its members every week.

“This is why we have been calling for security reforms before any elections are held in Zimbabwe,” Ncube said. “We are engaging Sadc right now over police behaviour and if this crackdown continues, our members will go to AU.

“These raids, harassment and unlawful detention of our members should not be tolerated anymore.”

Christian Alliance executive director Useni Sibanda said churches were worried with the crackdown on NGOs.

Christian Alliance is a coalition of many church organisations which include the Zimbabwe Pastors Fellowship and churches in Bulawayo.

“As churches and civic society organisations, we have completely lost confidence in Zimbabwean police,” he said.

“They are being partisan and have embarked on a sudden crack down on members of NGOs. They are doing this as the country is set to hold elections next year.”

Sibanda said churches will engage the two co-Home affairs ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone over the crackdown.

Last week police arrested Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe’s bodyguard Themba Moyo and mainstream MDC Bulawayo deputy organising secretary, Tsepiso Mpofu for allegedly spraying the same graffiti at Ndlovu’s information centre.

The graffiti sprayed at Ndlovu’s office read “MDC kwese kwese (every were).” - Ndakaziva Majaka and Pindai Dube

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