The CSOs said their statement was a response to the ongoing harassment and victimization of its leaders, who are human rights defenders. They referred to the persecution of Abel Chikomo, executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, in particular.
Chikomo was last week charged by police with running an illegal organization. They claimed that the Forum should have been registered as a Private Voluntary Organization (PVO). Chikomo denied the charges and said his group falls under Common Law Associations and is legally recognized by Zimbabwes constitution and the courts. Officials from the Harare Law and Order division have been harassing Chikomo through interrogation since February.
In their statement the CSOs said the work they do in Zimbabwe has contributed immensely to assisting and protecting the rights of the marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed in society. They said the state should strengthen relations with them for the benefit of the country, instead of wasting scarce resources on attacks, intimidation and other harassment.
They said they have had to perform many of the functions that the state is normally responsible for, because of mismanagement, corruption and bad policies. The police and all other state agents must stop attacking the messenger and start attending to the message, the statement said.
The coalition of civic groups includes the National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, National Association for Non-governmental Organisations (Nango), Womens Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.Post published in: Politics