'Arbitrary arrests, detention rise'

HARARE - The month of October witnessed an increase in cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, the Human Rights NGO Forum has said in its Organised Violence and Torture Report for October.

This followed the arrest and detention of 42 members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) following their attempt to organise a demonstration against the government’s increase of the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax from 5 cents per transaction to 2 cents per dollar transacted, on an already overburdened and impoverished citizenry.

The forum said in general, the economic situation in Zimbabwe remained fragile throughout the month with no signs of recovery.

The economic crisis manifested in the form of severe shortages of basic commodities and essential drugs, sky rocketing prices and a liquidity crunch — a reminiscence of the 2008 economic meltdown when Zimbabwe became the first country to hyper inflate in the 21st century.

The NGO Forum said the Commission of Inquiry — established in terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act (Chapter 10:07) to investigate the August 1 post-election violence in Harare began its public hearings on October 16.

The NGO forum hailed the public hearings in Harare as “peaceful.”

It said, however, in Bulawayo, the hearings had to be temporarily adjourned following violent clashes involving the Mthwakazi Republic activists and members of the ZRP.

The disturbances resulted in the arrest and detention of four of Mthwakazi activists who were later released.

The forum also noted that running battles involving the police and vendors in Harare’s Central Business District continued throughout the month.

Of concern is the continued use of excessive force by the police in dealing with the vendors.

The NGO Forum also said realisation of the right to access to basic health care services as stipulated in section 76 of the Constitution was under threat due to the escalating economic crisis that is making it very difficult for the government to adequately fund the health sector. 

“Essential drugs were not readily available in public hospitals and clinics forcing citizens to resort to private hospitals where they were charged in foreign currency,” the report said.

It also highlighted the cholera crisis, which was first detected in August. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the cholera outbreak, had as of October 10, 2018 claimed approximately 54 lives and a total of 8 980 cases were reported in seven provinces across Zimbabwe.

Glen View and Budiriro suburbs in Harare were the most affected accounting for 46 percent and 29 percent of the cases respectively.

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