Create safe spaces for CSOs

Yesterday, May 11, 2017 was a bad day for civic society in Zimbabwe.

A group of Zanu (PF) youths from Chitungwiza who had been bussed by a local Councilor blocked a community meeting that was meant to discuss the suspension of the entire Chitungwiza Town Council and its impact on service delivery.

The meeting had been organized by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) together with the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest).

The youths claimed they had been given “orders from above”.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) is concerned that such developments stifle civic society from carrying out its watchdog role as well as pushing for good governance.

CHRA reiterates that Civic Society Organizations play important roles in the development of Zimbabwe but these roles can only be executed effectively in a peaceful environment characterized by respect for divergent views and respect for the country’s supreme charter.

The events that unfolded in Chitungwiza yesterday (May 11, 2017) bring back horrible memories of civic society members and ordinary citizens being attacked or arrested while discharging their duties in different communities.

CHRA calls upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other responsible authorities to ensure peace prevails in communities by bringing the culprits of violence to book.

We firmly believe this must be done without fear or favour.

CHRA also implores politicians to desist from using violence to block discussion of issues of national concern such as corruption and abuse of public office.

The use of violence by rowdy politicians has in the past fueled hostility towards Civic Society Organizations and this has resulted in numerous cases of victimization of civic society activists thus stifling their work.

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