By Tererai Karimakwenda
06 November, 2012
The crackdown against human rights and political activists continued on Monday, with the arrest of two MDC-T officials in Chivi North, Masvingo Province.
The MDC-T secretary for Ward 8 Kenny Machingura, and an organising secretary named Chidaushe, were arrested on charges of holding an unsanctioned meeting in the district, a charge they deny.
According to the MDC-T the two participated in an MDC meeting that attracted hundreds of supporters at Makovere Business Centre on Saturday. They were arrested two days later, after police tracked them down to their homes. Police took them to Mashava Police Station where they are currently detained.
A statement from the MDC-T said: “Police are threatening to arrest more MDC members in the area for attending the meeting.
Okay Machisa, director of Zimrights, told SW Radio Africa that the crackdown on human rights defenders and political activists has become a Zimbabwean custom whenever the country is headed towards an election.
“We are very worried because this sends a signal of fear, and it is very sad that politicians have invested in intimidation and threats. But the people of Zimbabwe have been exposed to this harassment for the past decade and it has become a monotony. They know that only the vote can remedy the situation,” Machisa said.
Just last week, police in Bulawayo arrested the MDC-T’s deputy organising secretary, Tsepiso Mpofu, and accused her of painting graffiti on the house of a ZANU PF politburo member, as well as assault. Mpofu was released the same day after the alleged assault victim failed to turn up at the police station.
Meanwhile, student leaders have also been dealing with arrests and harassment.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) President, Pride Mukono, was on Monday remanded in custody by a Gweru magistrate. Mukono had a warrant of arrest issued after he failed to attend court in Gweru, where he faces charges of inciting violence while addressing students in September. He is detained at Hwahwa prison and will be back in court on November21st.
Mukono was arrested and charged under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), along with ZINASU secretary general, Tryvine Musokeri, who was released on October 31st.
The two had been attending court on these charges since their original arrest on September 31st . This means Mukono’s release on Monday came after he spent nearly a month in prison.
Believe Tapera, a student activist from Midlands State University (MSU) who was arrested the same day, was released two weeks ago after a week in prison. But officials at MSU served him with a letter of suspension on October 29th, accusing him of inciting violence.
Tapera had simply written an article titled, “ZINASU Demands Release of Their Leader”, which was published in the NewsDay newspaper on October 23rd. He is yet to appear before the university disciplinary committee.
The arrests, intimidation and harassment of political, human rights and student activists has intensified in the last few months and it is feared that it may get worse as we get closer to elections.