Kudakwashe Mugari Deputy News Editor
Government has shot down London-based non-governmental organisation, Amnesty International’s inaccurate and highly-policitised reports over recent illegal demonstrations called by Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC-Alliance.
Amnesty, like most Western organisations, has a streak of bias against Zimbabwe and recently claimed that Zimbabwe had witnessed, over the last year, “a ruthless attack on human rights, with the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association increasingly restricted and criminalised”.
In a statement last night, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said Zimbabwe was a democratic country that respected its Constitution and the rights of its people.
‘‘We have noted the statement from Amnesty International and wish to object to the use of political epithets and undertones,” he said.
“We have also noted the ill-informed inaccuracies which are contained in their statement.
‘‘Firstly, no Zimbabwean should be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Whenever such is alleged, there will be a thorough and professional investigation. This is a position we have consistently stated. We take this opportunity to reaffirm it.’’
Last week, MDC-Alliance arranged demonstrations for which the police issued a prohibition order after getting intelligence they were going to be violent and infringe on other people’s rights.
Mr Mangwana said the police will continue with its reform efforts in line with modern policing methods, adding that the force will protect the rights of civilians from violent protesters.
‘‘On the 15th of August 2019, police issued a prohibition order against protests planned for the following day,” he said.
“The reason for this was that evidence had been found that suggested the protests would turn violent. This was challenged in court and the prohibition order was upheld.
“Police had also issued a statement informing everyone that this would not be a legal protest. These are the circumstances that led to the dispersing of the protesters.
‘‘It is the same issue of planned violence that also informed the prohibition of subsequent planned protests elsewhere. The safeguards within our law include access to the court where decisions of this nature are presented for review when one is aggrieved. In all the cases involved, the courts agreed with the police assessments.’’
Mr Mangwana said it was the prospect of a repeat of the illegal demonstrations and direct threats of violence that led authorities to take preventative action by prohibiting the protests that threatened the security of persons and property.
‘‘We also wish Amnesty International would improve on its governance and credibility after recent corruption scandals involving the major abuse of donor funding and false claims that one Tinashe Kaitano of Kadoma had been shot by authorities and buried, a claim which later proved to be a falsehood when Mr Kaitano appeared in court,’’ he said
Mr Mangwana said Government will continue on its reform agenda in spite of the recent setbacks from the opposition and other anti-government machinations.
On media reforms, he said the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)’s replacement bills that were before Parliament were for the people and reflected both the values and aspirations of Zimbabweans
‘’Two of the bills replacing AIPPA are already before Parliament and we have keenly followed and absorbed the contributions coming from citizens and other stakeholders in the outreach programme,” said Mr Mangwana.
“As a Government, we are very happy to see the public participating in the legislative processes, as all laws should reflect both the values and the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people. We hope the emerging laws will help further broaden our democratic space and strengthen our multi-party system.’’