CiZC disturbed by a continuation of persecution of human rights defenders and criminalisation of civil society work

Statement by Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, Peter Mutasa on the persecution of human rights defenders and criminalisation of civil society work

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for taking time to attend this press conference.

We are gathered here at a time when things continue to move in the wrong direction in our beloved country of Zimbabwe.

The national state of affairs continues to deteriorate, amid worsening authoritarian tendencies by the ruling party, ZANU PF.

A number of unfortunate developments in the political, social and economic realm continue to attract our attention and these include political violence and the continued closure of the civic and democratic space, a crisis of social services, an economic implosion characterized by high inflation as well as erosion of salaries and pensions as well as the devaluation of the local currency and the ever increasing prices of basic commodities.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to respond accordingly.

We are extremely disturbed by a continuing pattern whereby human rights defenders who have justifiably spoken out against misgovernance have been victims of this oppression which is reminiscent of the colonial era.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) continues to note with huge concern, the weaponization of the law enforcement and justice systems by the government to clampdown on human rights defenders.

On the closure of civic and democratic space we note the following;

  1. The enactment of draconian laws that include the Data Protection Act enacted in December 2021, amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act among other draconian pieces of legislation is a calculated move to criminalize anyone seeking to hold the government to account. In the same vein, the PVO Amendment Bill seeks to shut down many private voluntary actors, including those providing humanitarian assistance across the country and ensure that citizens impoverished by years of economic mismanagement are vulnerable to the dictates of corrupt politicians.
  2. The partisan use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) against civil society actors and the opposition implies that no organizing is permissible under this administration. We note with concern that law enforcement agents continue to act as appendages of the ruling party, ZANU PF in violation of the country’s supreme law.
  • Current political developments ahead of the 2023 elections point to a bloody election and it is quite clear that ZANU PF is keen to retain power by any means necessary and violence is on top of their strategies. We are reminded of the declaration by ZANU PF member, Josiah Hungwe who in May 2018 said President Mnangagwa stands “ready to shoot for power.”
  1. We note with concern the conduct of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC), which refuses to act transparently and this conduct clearly betrays ZANU PF’s intent to win all upcoming elections by hook or crook.


The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition would like to put it on record that that the above tactics; which are basically meant to silence dissent and entrench authoritarian rule will be short lived as they will be resisted by all progressive Zimbabweans.

We urge President Mnangagwa to desist from persecuting human rights defenders and heed genuine calls for reform and national dialogue as a way of unlocking the multi faceted crisis in our country, Zimbabwe.

The Spokesperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Obert Masaraure has been one of the major targets of state repression and continues to face a number of trumped up charges at the courts.

We are very concerned that Masaraure is being victimized for standing for the rights of workers and speaking against the excesses of the government. His Secretary General at the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Robson Chere is also in prison facing trumped up murder charges dating back to 2016. It is unfortunate that the government has chosen to criminalize trade unionism against the dictates of International Labour Law.

There are a number of individuals who have been victimized for speaking out against misgoverance in the country and they are currently detained as political prisoners.

It has become quite apparent that the state is keen on entrenching authoritarian rule and pursuing its agenda of a one party state and for us, this is a call to action. We therefore, reiterate that we shall pursue all avenues necessary to resist entrenchment of authoritarian rule and this includes strengthening advocacy initiatives at the regional and international level.

Human rights abuses, continued mutilation of the constitution, a dishonest, parasitic and extractive national economic system clearly remains a threat to inclusive economic growth and national development. Corruption remains a vice that is choking even the government’s singularly produced National Development Strategy 1. These are the very same reasons the Second republic’s re-engagement drive at Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) was rebuffed. The callous behavior of our government is retarding re-engagement with the international community.

Attempts to amend the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act point to a well-coordinated attempt to further shrink the democratic space in Zimbabwe through abusing recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Only this week, a pro-ZANU PF functionary leader of a one-man organisation, the Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations, Goodson Nguni said that as soon as the PVO Amendment Bill is signed into law, top on the list of organisations to be shut down are Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

In light of this, it is clear that the latest arrests and persecution of civil society actors is part of a grand scheme to silence the civil society movement in Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa has failed to honor his pledge of opening up the democratic space and is seeking to introduce full autocracy, where the justice system is used as a tool for repression.

We reaffirm our position that an independent judiciary is critical for inclusive national development to prevail and the State must guarantee the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

Crisis of social services

The continued under-funding of basic social services by government is of grave concern to us and we are also disturbed by the fact that the government continues to treat its employees with utter contempt and disdain.

More worrying is the fact that the government has employed divide and rule as well as terror tactics to weaken the struggle for a living wage. The crisis of meager wages has relegated the majority of civil servants into abject poverty. Even security sector personnel have not been spared if, a fact which has been identified as a key driver of corruption among law enforcement agencies. This can easily result in anarchy, and a serious cause for concern especially for the human security of citizens.

We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the suffering workers of Zimbabwe and urge the Government private sector employers to show sincerity in addressing the plight of workers. Government must urgently engage with all workers’ unions and not just a select few; and their engagements must be based on genuine and frank conversations

We call upon workers from the private and public sector to unite in demanding a living wage and resist the divide and rule tactics from employers.

We also urge the citizens of Zimbabwe to stand in solidarity with workers in general, as their plight is not theirs alone, but impacts on us all. In this vein, the Coalition rallies behind calls for USD salaries for workers.


In light of the deteriorating situation and in the interests of seeing more broad-based and inclusive development in Zimbabwe, that genuinely ‘leaves no-one behind’, we therefore make the following recommendations;

  • We urge the Zimbabwe Republic Police to act professionally in the conduct of their duties, upholding this Constitution and enforcing the law without bias and desist from acting as a vigilante force for the ruling party.


  • We implore the government to seriously consider the issue of electoral reforms as an urgent matter. It is our hope that all stakeholders will consider the issue of electoral reforms as key to getting back our country on a positive development trajectory. It is also imperative for ZEC to act in an impartial and independent manner and desist from acting as commissars of the ruling party. ZEC must be transparent and accountable to all contesting parties and the general citizenry.


However, we hazard that electoral reforms must not be taken as a stand-alone and isolated from reform in economic governance as well as public service delivery, where devolution remains a key tool for improving governance and achieving inclusive development.


  • The Coalition has endorsed a call by citizens across the country to forge a ‘broad alliance’ to tackle the numerous challenges facing the country and we will continue to mobilise progressive citizens to demand reforms that will lead to a democratic and economically developed Zimbabwe. We urge progressive Zimbabweans to remain united in defence of their constitutionally guaranteed rights while exercising the right to peaceful protests as enshrined under Section 59 of the constitution. On another call upon the government of Zimbabwe to seriously consider recommendations from civil society titled the CSO Framework for Dialogue and the Resolution of the Zimbabwean Crisis.


  • The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition views reforms of our governance architecture as key in tacking Zimbabwe forward. In particular we are concerned with:
    1. Governance in the realm of state-civil society relations
    2. Governance in the realm of economic governance and equal opportunity for all
    3. Governance in the realm of public service delivery.

It is our firm belief that far-reaching and genuine reforms in those three facets of governance are key in taking our country forward.

  • We will also continue to engage with our partners in the region and internationally in urging for a ‘scaffolding’ of the protracted transition in Zimbabwe. We firmly believe that conditions in the country cannot self-correct but indeed require the guidance and assistance of regional actors, especially SADC.
  • The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has engaged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the move by the Zimbabwean government to further shrink the democratic space by abusing FATF Recommendations. Copies of the letter will be shared with you after this press conference




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