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Demonstrations, intra-party violence and harassment of journalists | Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

Demonstrations, intra-party violence and harassment of journalists

The month of November was characterized by demonstrations by WOZA and NCA and intra – party violence within MDC.

On 5 November 98 members of WOZA were arrested during a protest outside the Parliament building in Harare. A deputation drawn from the membership began a protest to press for an end to violence. Members also wanted to express their commitment to repealing of the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). As the procession was to arrive at Parliament, the Riot Squad, based at Africa Unity Square, intercepted it and began to beat the peaceful activists. Some of their members were later taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were reportedly held for 7 hours before being released without charge.

On 22 November, 23 members of NCA were severely assaulted and some allegedly tortured after an attempt to demonstrate close to the motorcade of South African President Thabo Mbeki on his visit to Harare. The protestors were demonstrating against the recent Constitutional Amendment No 18 Bill. As the protesters arrived at Harare Main post office along Julius Nyerere Way in central Harare, the motorcade was reportedly already in sight, approaching into the central business district from Harare International airport. However, the police allegedly quickly dispersed the group by beating and shoving the marchers to disperse before they could interfere with President Mbeki’s motorcade. The Human Rights Forum condemns the use of brut force by the police on peaceful demonstrators and urges the government to take seriously the grievances of the demonstrators.

Intra – party violence reared its ugly head within the MDC on 18 November outside the party’s Harvest House headquarters in Harare. This follows clashes between MDC supporters loyal to the ousted MDC National Women’s Assembly Chairperson Lucia `Matibenga, and those in support of her replacement Theresa Makone. A group of women is reported to have besieged the Harvest House headquarters demanding an audience with MDC President Tsvangirai whom they challenged to explain why Matibenga was ousted and replaced by one of his alleged loyalists. Matibenga is challenging the election of Theresa Makone who replaced her in a poll she alleges was out of order, after many of her supporters were barred from participating. Two journalists, John Nyashanu of the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation and freelancer Frank Chikowore, were allegedly harassed as they tried to interview Matibenga.

The Human Rights Forum condemns such acts of violence and urges all political parties to refrain from violence as a means of solving their differences.

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