A crackdown by Zimbabwean security forces has been fiercely criticised by the UN human rights office, with allegations of shootings, beatings and abductions of opposition figures, activists and residents. AFP/File/ZINYANGE AUNTONY
Monday 21 January 2019 was generally quiet in the beginning but activity increased as the the day progressed across the country. In the seemingly calm normal business day, state violence against civil society, labour, opposition and residents continued. On an brighter note, the High Court set aside the government’s directive to shut down internet.
Around the Neighborhoods
The atmosphere in communities around Harare was tense. This can be attributed to the visibility of armed soldiers and police in some areas. In Ruwa, masked ZNA officers were seen loitering in the streets. In Highfields and Kuwadzana, water cannons and military armoured vehicles were also strategically positioned in streets near crowded paces such as shopping centres. This also the same situation in Mbare, Dzivarasekwa, Glen View and Glen Norah.
Raids on civilian residence
The Forum has verified cases of raids on civilian residences in Highfields, and Dzivarasekwa. In Highfields, ZRP anti-riot police fired six teargas canisters at a house which at the time of the incident housed 7 people. In Dzivarasekwa, two houses were also raided by the police and the residence forced to flee from teargas that had been shot into the houses through windows. In one of the incidents, an individual experiencing mental health challenges was assaulted as he tried to flee from the teargas.
The police and the soldiers intensified crackdown on residents. In Domboshava, men have abandoned their families to seek refuge from the heavy handedness of armed forces. Those left behind by fleeing suspected protestors have also been victimised to coerce them to share the whereabouts of the suspected protestors. In Ruwa, Epworth and Glen Norah, the police and the soldiers continued the assault and torture of residents. MDC members from Epworth were charged with criminal nuisance emanating from the 14 January 2019. A visit to the law and order section showed that many people were being arrested for various offences throughout the day.
Arrests of Members of Parliament and ZCTU Leaders
The attack on opposition supporters and civil society leaders continued. Latest reports indicate that Harare North legislator Honourable Rusty Markham of MDC was arrested in the afternoon. His arrest this morning brings the number of the arrested MDC legislators who have been arrested since the shutdown started to six (6). The police also arrested Mr. Japhet Moyo, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) upon arrival at the airport today. He is facing charges of attempting to subvert constitutional government and is represented by the ZLHR. Moyo was out of the country during the week of blood and darkness.
ZANU PF Torture Bases Emerging
The Forum has received credible reports of ZANU PF torture bases emerging across the country. In Mutoko, ZANU PF militia noted that they were establishing the infrastructure of violence in order to deal with ‘people sabotaging ED’ and to prepare for future protests.
Order to Shutdown Internet Unlawful
In a matter brought by MISA Zimbabwe, represented by ZLHR, the High Court of Zimbabwe ruled that the Interception of Communications Act does not authorise the Minister of State to give directives hence the directive was unlawful. See here the statement by MISA Zimbabwe.