State continues to persecute Chikomo

HARARE - Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum ('the Forum'), Abel Chikomo, was formally charged yesterday under Section 6 (3) as read with subsection 1 of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act. Chikomo was allowed to go home but is required to report today Thursday at the Law and Order section of Harare Central police station.

The investigation and interrogation of Chikomo has been going on since the beginning of February 2011. The police are alleging that he has been managing and controlling the operations of an illegal PVO. The police further allege that the Forum is required to register as a PVO before it can commence any of its activities as stipulated in its constitution. By directing the activities and instructing the staff of the Forum to perform such activities as well as raising resources for the Forum, the police allege that Mr Chikomo is knowingly acting in contravention of the PVO Act.

Chikomo has denied all the charges and allegations by the police. He states in his warned and cautioned statement that the Forum is not a PVO and is not required either by the PVO Act or any other law, to register as a PVO. To the contrary, the PVO Act exempts organisations like the Forum from such registration. To the contrary, section 2 (1) (v) of the PVO Act exempts organisations like the Forum from registering under the Act.

Chikomo states that the The Forum is a Common Law Universitas recognised by Section 89 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. He further states that the legal status of the Forum is beyond question as demonstrated by the recognition of the legal existence and work of the Forum by the Courts of Zimbabwe, including the Supreme Court. The courts would not entertain legal suits lodged by the Forum if the Forum was not legally constituted. In addition, the Forum works and collaborates with different Government departments including the Ministry of Justice and the Ministerial Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.

The Forum is also recognised by the Parliament of Zimbabwe and on several occasions, the Forum has appeared before various committees of Parliament including the Thematic Committee on Human Rights, briefing the committee, on, among other things, the role of human rights NGO’s and the promotion and protection of human rights. All these bodies would certainly not collaborate with an illegal entity.

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