Arrest and detention of Activists disturbing

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is worried on the resurgence of targeted persecution of human rights defenders, civic society leaders and political activists in the pro-democracy movement. We take note that at the beginning of the year the courts were seized with over 200 cases of ‘alleged public nuisance and violence.’ Some activists like Pride Mkono, Promise Mkwananzi, Linda Masarira and Makomborero Haruzive had multiple trumped up charges before the courts following peaceful protests that took place in 2016.

Linda Masarira

The year 2017 has seen an unprecedented number of convictions with seemingly minor sentences in the form of fines and community service not to mention the case of the MDC activists who were sentenced to 20 years for the alleged murder of Inspector Petros Mutedza. As CiZC we consider this a severe miscarriage of justice which only authenticates our long held view that Zimbabwe is an unfree country.

The recent arrest of Darlington Madzonga, a Programmes Officer at the Students Solidarity Trust and member of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on frivolous charges of murdering a police officer on 29 June 2017 is disturbing. Darlington Madzonga was arrested in connection with the death of a riot police officer, who was killed in the Harare central business district during a demonstration against police brutality. We find the arrest worrying and can only authenticate that the state in Zimbabwe is predatory and largely undemocratic.

We wish to make a public statement that Mr Darlington Madzonga was at the International Conference hosted by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and SAPES Trust on 29th June 2017 at Harare International Conference Centre throughout the duration of conference which ended on 30 June 2017.

Madzonga’s arrest is one of the many cases where police have arrested innocent citizens on trumped up charges and have had to spend long periods in detention as did towards the run up to the 27 June 2008 Presidential elections. This form of arbitrary arrests are meant to instill fear in citizens from demanding good governance. We maintain that the Zimbabwe Republic Police has since lost its integrity and is a captured institution that has been conflated with the ruling party ZANU PF.

The arrest and torture of Darlington Madzonga is nothing but motivated by politics and is a clear violation of section 56 (3) of the Zimbabwe Constitution which outlaws unfair treatment on the basis of political preferences and opinions.

The continued persecution of human rights defenders on trumped up charges only serves to authentic the worldview of an absence of the rule of law and undemocratic governance which are the bedrock of an oppressive and dictatorial regime.

We believe the escalating cases of arbitrary arrests of political activists and the partisan conduct of the police will affect the credibility of the 2018 elections and the general health of our constitutional democracy. We strongly urge the police from engaging in partisan behavior that is a threat to our constitutional order and the security of citizens.

We demand the unconditional and immediate release of Darlington Madzonga and we wish to warn the government and its agencies that we will not hesitate to mobilize citizens against police brutality and wanton arbitrary arrests. We will equally use every democratic avenue both in Zimbabwe and outside to ensure that we expose the police state in Zimbabwe.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition continues to call for a depoliticized police force that serves the interests of the citizen as stipulated in Section 208 of the Constitution. We maintain that in the absence of a radical shift in the conduct and behavior of the police, the 2018 elections will be a farce. We reiterate that in the absence of radical reforms to the political environment, the question of state legitimacy will continue to haunt the nation.

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