Douglas Mwonzora


ZimRights Programs manager Leo Chamahwinya is still being detained in Harare

By Alex Bell
18 December 2012

An official from the Zimbabwe Association of Human Rights (ZimRights), who was arrested almost a week ago after a police raid on the group’s offices, is still being detained in Harare.

The offices were ransacked by police officials last Wednesday and ZimRights Programs manager Leo Chamahwinya was arrested, on allegations of conducting ‘illegal’ voter registration.

He was held without charge until last Friday, when he was formally accused of ‘conspiracy to commit fraud’. He is now still being detained in Harare and his legal team are set to file a bail application in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the ZimRights offices in Bulawayo were raided on Monday, in what is being slammed as a deliberate crackdown on civic groups in Zimbabwe. Staff was questioned during the raid, but no one was arrested.

Dzimbabwe Chimbga, from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), told SW Radio Africa that the police spent more than hour “turning the place upside down,” but eventually left empty handed.

“This comes off the back of the arrest of a ZimRights official in Harare and we believe this raid is linked. Police claimed they were looking for subversive material linked to so-called illegal registration of voters. But they didn’t find anything,” Chimbga said.

The lawyer agreed that civic groups and other NGOs appear to be targeted as part of a deliberate and “ruthless” campaign of intimidation and harassment. Last week, two officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) were detained for organising an “unsanctioned public meeting” on International Human Rights Day. Their detention came just days before ZimRights’ Chamawhinya was arrested.

Last month several employees from the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), an NGO that provides support to victims of torture and political violence, were arrested and illegally detained because CSU was allegedly in possession of “offensive and subversive material.”

And in August the headquarters of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Zimbabwe (GALZ) was ransacked on multiple occasions, during which visibly drunk riot police assaulted GALZ employees and seized office materials. Authorities later attempted to shut down the GALZ operations altogether, charging a co-chairperson with running an “unregistered” organisation.

To contact this reporter email alex@swradioafri[email protected] or follow on Twitter

One Responseto “Douglas Mwonzora”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. At the time countries of the world were asked to incorporate human and civil rights in their constitutions for purposes of preserving human rights and human dignity. I was born in the 1950′s long after the United Nations Charter on Human Rights had been found but I never enjoyed my natural and legal rights as defined by the United Nations Charter as a national of former Rhodesia. If anything, I was driven away from my country of birth to fight a war against the iron grip of political power by a group of foreign thugs commonly known as rhodies. Today the indigenous people of Zimbabwe enjoy more human and civil rights than most so-called developed countries where racial discrimination is still the order of the day. Anybody who disagrees with this statement is purely a hypocrite. Racism is there everywhere and very much alive in many European countries although many of them have the Human and Civil Rights document well incorporated in their constitutions. A recent European Report by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Forum of Berlin in Germany clearly confirms there is intolerance, prejudice and racial discrimination in European countries without exception.

    It should be understood that the enjoyment of human and civil rights come with responsibility as these can easily be taken away if there is lawlessness in the country.