Democracy enemies be warned

HARARE - The continued crackdown on NGOs risks costing the GNU’s legitimacy and more.

Yesterday’s raid on ZimRights offices in Harare and the subsequent arrest of pro-democracy workers is plain deplorable.

Over the past few days, several other NGO leaders have been raided or summoned to police offices while some have been harassed for days.

The raid on ZimRights offices comes hard-on-the heels of another police raid on the Counselling Services Unit (CSU) head office in Harare ostensibly to search for “subversive materials.”

Just like the raid on the ZimRights offices, police arrested five CSU employees who they detained at Harare Central Police Station after confiscating computers and CSU documents.

At ZimRights, police arrested the organisation’s educational programmes manager Leo Chamahwinya and dragged him for questioning to Harare Central Police Station over voter registration materials.

We roundly condemn the terror tactics being employed by the police meant to shrink the democratic space and consolidate autocracy.

It is also likely the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations are seeking to destroy evidence as transitional justice dawns.

We insist that the police must be there to serve the civilians and not protect the regime. We call for democratic policing in line with modern democracies.

We hope the raid was not a stronger response to an interview that ZimRights director Okay Machisa gave to this paper just two days ago.

The crackdown may inflict more terror on people who intend to stand up for freedom. On the other hand, the raids, at this time, may assuage those willing to assist us achieve a true democratic transition.

Every attempt to suppress NGOs risks attracting adverse and unwarranted publicity. And another thing, important to mention, is wishes and aspirations for an open society have become more vocal and determined and police can no longer use their might to stop calls for a free and fair vote.

No one is sure whether the ZimRights raid was really to search for voter registration material as claimed, but we believe it was sanctioned by enemies of democracy.

Yesterday’s crackdown risks bringing  great disgrace on the police force.

At the moment, police is eager to please their masters more than values of fairness and creating conditions for a free and fair contest.

However, every regime that despises the country’s interests and only relies on police back-up would never stand. Like one great Chinese philosopher once remarked, the people are the water and the ruler a boat.

The water can keep the boat afloat; the water can also capsize it. - Staff Writer

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