Police target Jestina Mukoko in latest clampdow
By Nomalanga Moyo
The police clampdown on human rights activists took another turn Wednesday
when they summoned Jestina Mukoko to Harare Central Police Station on
charges of operating an “unregistered” organisation.
Detective Chief Inspector Run’anga and Chief Superintendent Charles Ngirishi
telephoned lawyer Beatrice Mutetwa, telling her that Mukoko should report to
the police to answer charges of running an “illegal and unregistered”
However, Mutetwa advised the police that the Zimbabwe Peace Project’s board
had resolved that it be represented by the organisation’s chairperson, Dr
Solomon Zwana, “as Mukoko is simply an employee and cannot answer
registration queries as she does not have board authority to speak or act on
behalf of ZPP.
“Run’anga insisted that the police were not interested in anyone else but
Mukoko, and said that ZPP was an unlawful organisation and as such, cannot
have a board,” Mutetwa said.
She also advised Run’anga that ZPP is a registered organisation and that she
had provided its registration papers and Constitution to the police last
month, which were never contested.
Mutetwa said this latest clampdown is nothing more than state intimidation,
of not only Mukoko but also civil society organisations.
“All this is part of the election season. It’s political harassment meant to
intimidate and stop NGOs from ensuring that Zimbabweans understand both the
referendum and election processes.
“The police want to create an environment where NGOs are afraid to do their
work for fear of being locked up.
“Jestina has been used as an example before and they have to use her as an
example again,” Mutetwa explained.
Mukoko was a victim of state-sponsored torture when she was abducted by
State security agents in December 2008. She was detained, tortured and
released after 72 days.
Mukoko’s harassment follows a raid by the police at the offices of ZPP on
February 11th, when mobile phones, wind up radios, files with donor
information, political violence reports and DVDs were confiscated. So far,
no-one has been arrested or charged in relation to the raid.
The ZPP work involves monitoring and documenting breaches of human rights
and political violence in Zimbabwe.