Law used to silence activism – as Gwisai walks from gallows

Civil society groups in Zimbabwe have accused President Robert Mugabe's regime of using the law to persecute and silence activism.

Munyaradzi Gwisai
Munyaradzi Gwisai

Several Civil Society Organisations castigated the continued “political persecution in the form of legal prosecution,” of activist’s moments after a Harare magistrate passed sentence in the conspiracy to commit public violence case of six activists.

Even though they was apparent relief as Munyaradzi Gwisai and six others were slapped with a less sentence there is still indignation at the use of the law.

“As civil society leaders we totally reject this kind of political persecution in the form of legal prosecution, we find that this charade (trial of Gwisai and five others) was baseless,” said Dhewa Mavhinga the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional director, based in Johannesburg.

“There was no need for them to go through all this suffering…we believe this is an excessive form of punishment that is without basis but really a form of political punishment.”

Japhet Moyo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) accused parliamentarians of failing to repeal repressive laws saying.

“Nothing has changed. The situation that we are going through now is what we have been experiencing in the last ten years or so. We do have the worst parliament that we have not witnessed for the past thirty years.”

Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the other ZCTU faction, said people are free to watch videos arguing that Mugabe and other nationalists were not arrested for watching videos of Patrice Lumumba in 1963.

Constitutional law expert and a revered legal mind Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitution Assembly said there is nothing wrong about what Gwisai and others did.

“There is no crime committed by Gwisai it’s very clear. There are two ways of overthrowing a government, one it’s through an election and the second method is through mass mobilisation and it is perfectly legitimate for any society to organise against a government.

“What happens when government steals elections? Mugabe knows that elections do not matter he will always claim to be still in office. If a government remains in power while not doing anything Zimbabweans have the right to organise.”

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