The activists were arrested by members of the Zimbabwe National Army at a church service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo and were detained at an army barrack, One Brigade Headquarters, before they were taken to the police. At the military barrack they were allegedly tortured and suffered severe fractures.
We note that the military have no arresting powers and wish express our concern at the continued militarization of the state. The army officials’ actions are a violation of the rights enshrined in the constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and gives citizens the right to petition and hold public officials accountable.
We urge the president to take note of the legitimate grievances by the youths and institute remedial actions towards genuine transitional justice and reconciliation. These are issues of national importance that require a lasting solution rather than knee-jerk responses through state repressive machinery.
The actions of the army and police under instruction from the state which continues to pay lip-service to the Gukurahundi massacres are deplorable and a grave concern for the justice order in Zimbabwe. We note that 30 years later, the Executive has not acknowledged these inhumane killings neither has it made a public apology to the affected families.
We are worried that the state and its agents have been intimidating an already fragile and traumatized populace mainly in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions by unleashing violence and attempting to silence citizens demanding state accountability to such heinous deeds.
We are equally concerned that numerous public programmes meant to bring closure to the massacres continue to be foiled by the state, cases being the foiled Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration and currently the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which has spent half of its 10 year tenure before being operationalized.
We reiterate our call on the government of Zimbabwe to immediately:
- Develop, through inclusive consultations, and roll out a citizen centred National Healing and Reconciliation programme that should be built around:
b. Truth and Truth Telling
d. Respect for the constitution, human rights and rule of law
2. Abandon any form of intimidation and violence on citizens that are demanding accountability from those officials that were involved in Gukurahundi
3. Allow citizens to freely express themselves as enshrined in the constitution and allow public dialogue on the redress of past and current injustices