Zimbabwean authorities have launched a fresh onslaught against Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum by summonsing him to stand trial on charges of running an “unregistered” organisation in yet another official harassment of civic organisations and human rights defenders.
Chikomo was recently served with summons by two police officers only identified as Detective Gandidzanwa and Chipwanya to stand trial on 01 August 2013 at Harare (Rottenrow) Magistrates Court.
According to the summons, Chikomo contravened Section 6 (3) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act Chapter 17:15 after he allegedly conducted some activities without being registered under the PVO Act.
The charge, which he denies, came after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a non-governmental umbrella organization conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
The State says this was illegal since the organisation is not registered as a Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO). The State claims that he unlawfully instructed two of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s employees to commence or carry out a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the intention to obtain people’s recommendations on the preferred transitional justice mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organization registering with the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
Last year, Chikomo’s trial on the same charges, which first arose in February 2011, was shelved after State prosecutor Innocent Chingarande withdrew summons issued against him as the State was not ready to proceed with the matter. At that time Chikomo was represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights board member Selby Hwacha and Jeremiah Bamu.
Over the past two years Chikomo has been interrogated and asked to report to the police station on several occasions on the activities carried out by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.