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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid