News / Africa

Civil Societies in Zimbabwe Fear Pre-Election Crackdown

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
x
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
Civil society coalitions in Zimbabwe have raised concerns over the spate of recent police arrests targeting dissenting voices.  Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and analysts fear the crackdown will intensify as the country prepares for elections to end Zimbabwe's coalition government next year.  The NGOs and analysts say President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, which controls the police, wants to do away with organizations that watch for human rights violations.

This week Zimbabwe’s police raided offices of the Counseling Services Unit (CSU), an organization that offers medical and psychological treatment to people who have been traumatized or tortured.  The police said it was looking for some illegal equipment which it said the CSU was hiding. Three CSU employees were arrested in the raid.

Abel Chikomo, a representative of civil society coalitions in Zimbabwe, comments on the arrests.

“They were not even informed of the reasons for the deprivation of their liberty as required by the law. The search warrant was too broad and vague to be valid," said Chikomo.

Chikomo said civil society coalitions in Zimbabwe have asked for a meeting with the country’s head of police to raise their concerns.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri did not answer his phone when VOA attempted to reach him for comment.

Cephas Zinhumwe, the head of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO) says the groups are hoping the police will stop their harassment.

"The most important thing is to meet and record our complaints with him. We might get positive response. The positive response for us is for our members be able to go and work,” said Zinhumwe.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a Zimbabwean student working on a doctorate at Britain's University of Westminster, is not surprised the police are targeting the CSU and other Zimbabwean NGOs. 

“I think these are early warning signs that the government is preparing for an election.  Obviously we know that elections in Zimbabwe are always violent, and institutions such as the CSU are those that are credible that record violations, keep credible evidence on the transgressions against citizens’ civil and political liberties," said said Ruhanya. "So it is meant to intimidate and stop these organizations from doing their work.”

Pro-Mugabe security forces carried out a campaign of beatings and killings during Zimbabwe's 2008 elections, and observers have warned ZANU-PF may be preparing for another round of violence to make sure it wins the polls this time.

The elections are expected by June of next year, although they could be held up if the country’s main political parties cannot agree on the contents of a new constitution.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs