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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid