The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum unreservedly condemns the arrest and detention of NANGO Board Chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe on Sunday, 25 October 2009. The conduct of the police in Victoria Falls is reminiscent of the repression and clamp down on Civil Society and
political opposition forces that was taking place before the inception of the Inclusive Government.
Dadirai Chikwengo and Cephas Zinhumwe are said to have been charged under the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for convening a “political meeting” without obtaining the requisite police clearance. The arrests took place after the release of the 2009 NGO Directors’ Summer School Communiqué in which the 120 participating Directors of Civil Society in Zimbabwe raised concerns about the slow pace by the Inclusive Government in resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The arrests, together with numerous hate messages that have been published in the state-controlled media are symptomatic of a greater plot by less progressive elements of government to muzzle and frustrate the work of Civil Society. These developments are a draw back to members of the Civil Society who are working tirelessly for the promotion of human rights and justice in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the arrests are an affront to the spirit of tolerance brought about by the Global Political Agreement. The Forum demands the urgent release of the two and an immediate halt to further persecution of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.