Police launch renewed crackdown on MDC-T and journalists

May 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

By Tichaona Sibanda

In the last few weeks police have launched a renewed crackdown on MDC-T
activists and officials, with just a few months to go before harmonized
elections.

On Tuesday authorities extended their crackdown to journalists who dared
write an article about the MDC-T engaging in discussion with some of the
country’s service chiefs.

Zimbabwe Independent Editor Dumisani Muleya and Chief Reporter Owen Gagare,
were arrested and charged for “publishing or communicating false statements
prejudicial to the State.”

Commenting on the arrest Muleya said; ‘This is a clear abuse of the state
machinery and an act of systematic harassment and intimidation of
journalists who are merely doing their job.

‘This has always been a common feature of Zimbabwe under President Robert
Mugabe and his ZANU PF regime since they came to power in 1980. This
uncalled for move is calculated to muzzle the media, in this case ourselves,
to scare us away from writing about such major issues of overwhelming public
interest, especially security sector reform, ahead of general elections.’

Journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and MDC politicians are
among those targeted in a pattern of threats, harassment, imprisonment and
often attacks from ZANU PF thugs.

Two weeks ago, 19 MDC-T activists were arrested and charged with allegedly
impersonating government officials during a door-to-door campaign voter
registration campaign.

Since their arrest in Hatcliffe the activists have been held in custody
after a magistrate denied them bail last week and their hearing did not
proceed on Wednesday as scheduled. Lawyer Denford Halimane said the case was
postponed to Friday, after the state failed to allocate a prosecutor to deal
with the matter.

MDC-T Youth Assembly President Solomon Madzore is also still behind bars
after being arrested last week Thursday on allegations that he referred to
President Robert Mugabe as “a limping donkey” during an election campaign
rally in Mbire, Mashonaland Central.

While a Bindura magistrate granted the youth leader bail, the state
prosecutor invoked a controversial law to keep him in custody for seven
days.

In Matabeleland north the party’s youth chairman for the province, Fredrick
Ngwenya, was arrested on Monday, while in Manicaland Prosper Mutseyami, the
Musikavanhu MP and the province’s organising secretary, was arrested on
Wednesday in Mutare. He’s expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Promise Mkwananzi, the MDC-T secretary-general of the Youth Assembly, told
SW Radio Africa that as the country approaches elections, fear was beginning
to settle within ZANU PF elements.

‘They are doing this (crackdown) with the full knowledge of the
inevitable…which is the defeat they face under the MDC-T.

‘They are targeting key actors of the party’s campaign machinery to try and
subdue the will of the people,’ Mkwananzi said, adding that repression of
dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in ZANU PF.

‘There is a real climate of fear in Zimbabwe, with those brave enough to
speak out against the Robert Mugabe often having to suffer badly for it,’
Mkwananzi added.

Analysts pointed out that the ZANU PF regime is also undermining the
judiciary’s independence by using the state media to attack judges who rule
in favour of victims of human rights violations.

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