By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
16 July 2014
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has reported that 14 members of Transform Zimbabwe were this week charged with varying offences, with party leader Jacob Ngarivhume charged twice for holding unauthorised meetings.
Ngarivhume was first charged in Gweru on Monday after he was arrested for holding an unauthorised meeting at the weekend. He was arrested again soon after he left the court and was transferred to Harare where he was charged for the second time for failing to notify the authorities of a public gathering held in Hatfield last week.
The human rights group said Ngarivhume spent three nights in police custody and was only released later on Tuesday.
Ngarivhume’s 13 colleagues were also charged Tuesday with attempting to promote public violence after they were arrested for what they said was singing religious songs at the release of their leader in Gweru. The 13 will stand trial in August.
A few months ago Ngarivhume was abducted from his Chimanimani hotel room by the CIO and the police as he was preparing to hit the campaign trail. He was taken to a local police station where he was interrogated for four hours and released without charge.
At the time the party also reported that its members were being harassed by the CIO in the Binga and Masvingo areas. Since then there have been a number of incidents involving state security agents and party members. Party spokesman Sungai said they were being targeted because the party has the ‘potential for growth’ because of its rural focus and Christian base.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson Dewa Mavhinga said the developments are ‘a clear indication of resistance by the state agents to move away from the old era of prohibitive laws and embrace the new Constitution.’
Mavhinga said the charging of Ngarivhume under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and his colleagues under the Criminal Law act shows that there is an urgent need for the state to align the country’s laws with the new Constitution.
He said: ‘These laws are unconstitutional and the government knows that. We need to start enjoying the fruits of our new Constitution.’
He said state paranoia was still running high because of continued push for change by civil society hence the resistance to move on from the old order. The government has continued to use old laws even after they have been struck down by the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country.