Zimbabwe State Security Agents Target CSOs At SADC Summit

zlhr_logZimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns the malevolent and illegal actions of unidentified Zimbabwean state security agents who on Friday 20 May 2011 harassed Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives at the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit in Windhoek, Namibia.

Some Zimbabwean state security agents who refused to identify themselves, accompanied by some Namibian law enforcement agents under unclear circumstances interrogated some CSO leaders who were attending the SADC summit.

The CSO leaders had on Thursday 19 May 2011 shared their position concerning the road map to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe at a press conference organised by the Southern Africa Development Community-Council of Non Governmental Organizations (SADC-CNGO) in partnership with NANGOF Trust, Namibia.

The CSOs also attended another press conference that had been organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition focusing on CSOs input into the Zimbabwean election debate.

First to be targeted were about ten representatives including National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition officials MacDonald Lewanika, Pedzisayi Ruhanya and Dewa Mavhinga and other representatives from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network who had been distributing statements with key demands from Zimbabwean CSOs at Safari Court hotel, the venue of the Summit.

The CSOs representatives were whisked away by Namibian law enforcement agents while state security agents watched. During that time state security agents asked Lewanika some questions on his personal details, his business in Namibia, where he was residing, how long he had been in Namibia and how he had arrived in the country.

The CSO representatives were then told to leave the premises of the hotel after some interrogation by the Zimbabwe state security agents.

The state security agents also briefly detained Jelousy Mawarire for allegedly capturing pictures and chased away Shastry Njeru of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum from the venue of the SADC Summit.

Mawarire, who had his pictures deleted from his camera, was later released after the intervention of Namibian human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe.

Also targeted were ZLHR Executive Director Irene Petras, Joy Mabenge of Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe, Lloyd Kuveya of Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Makanatsa Makonese of SADC Lawyers Association who were having a meeting at the hotel. The four CSO representatives were force-marched into the hotels parking area by two armed Namibian police who took them to the Namibian Chief Inspector dealing with security at the Summit and the Zimbabwean security agents.

The Zimbabwean state security agents were very hostile and proceeded to profile Petras, Mabenge, Kuveya and Makonese. They refused to identify themselves.

The CSO representatives were interrogated by the state security agents for more than one hour and the questions centered around their personal details, their mission in Namibia, their place of residence in Namibia, and their residential addresses in Zimbabwe while officials from the Zimbabwean embassy were observing.

ZLHR strongly condemns this despicable conduct and reminds the state security agents and the government that civil society has the right to have its voice heard that is why there is a strong delegation drawn from various networks in Zimbabwe and the region. The actions of the state security agents highlights the need to urgently reform the security sector players as enunciated in the Global Political Agreement as they continue to be a law unto themselves even beyond the borders of Zimbabwe.

Post published in: Politics

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