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Arrest shows that little changed despite swearing in of new government | Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Arrest shows that little changed despite swearing in of new government

Zimbabwe’s long awaited Global Political Agreement (GPA) of September 15 2008 was consummated on 11 February 2009 with the formation of an inclusive government with the aim of bringing to an end the crisis that has characterised the country over the past years. Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe while Ms Thokozani Khupe of MDC-T and Mr Arthur Mutambara of MDC-M were sworn in as the Deputy Prime Ministers as required by law. The swearing in of the Prime Minister and the two Deputy Prime Ministers created optimism – that a new political dispensation that would see an end had come to an almost inherent Zimbabwean culture of political victimisation and discrimination.

However, as this report documents, the arrest of the MDC- T Treasurer-General Mr Roy Bennett only two days after the swearing in of the new Prime Minister and his deputies, demonstrated that not much has changed as yet. Mr Bennett was arrested on 13 February at Charles Prince Airport and is facing charges of attempted sabotage, banditry and terrorism. (He was released on 12 March 2009 following a Supreme Court ruling granting him bail.) The arrest and detention of Mr Bennett was in contravention of the letter and spirit of the GPA to which all parties have seemingly committed to as noted in their speeches at the swearing in ceremony.

Finally, of concern is the increase in violations against freedom of expression, association and movement between January in which two violations were recorded, and February which had 94. Also of note was the increase in the number of instances of political discrimination, intimidation and victimisation; 110 recorded in February as compared with 26 in January. Unlawful arrest and unlawful detentions were likewise on the increase in February, largely due to more civic activity as compared to the month of January. January recorded 21 of these violations and February 105. It should be noted however, that no cases of torture were recorded in either month.

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