|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition notes with concern the widespread human rights violations which have accompanied the beginning of a week long mass action called by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and supported by students, labour leaders and other members of civil society.
Across the country, students, pro-democracy activists, and those suspected of organising or supporting the mass action have been targeted for arrest and have been subject to police brutality. In addition, the government’s tactics to suppress dissent has taken a worrying turn as youths members of para-military groups also led attacks against suspected demonstrators and by-standers alike.
In Harare, for example, police used dogs, tear gas and live ammunition to break up demonstrators both in the city centre and in the high density areas. On Monday June 2, two people from Highfields were treated in hospital for gunshot wounds. Reports indicate a strong presence of military and paramilitary actors in the high density areas, with army tankers and military helicopters doing rounds. In the city centre, there was a heavy police presence on the afternoon of Monday June 2, and the police were witnessed intimidating groups of by-standers for example by making them do press ups on the road, and by forcing them carry their bicycles to cross the street rather than allowing people to ride them.
At the University of Zimbabwe, police barricaded the campus and fired teargas to prevent students from leaving. The police then tear gassed the hostels and assaulted many of the students. At least 20 students were arrested, and more than 50 have been treated in hospital for injuries sustained from beatings and from jumping out of the windows of their hostels. At the Harare Polytechnic, eight students were arrested on Sunday June 1 for allegedly rallying support for this week’s mass action.
In addition, five MDC Members of Parliament, the Mayor of Bulawayo, and hundreds of people including students, activists, by-standers and members of the MDC’s national, provincial and district structures have been arrested. It is reported that in Harare and Bulawayo alike at least 200 people have been arrested, while in the smaller towns of Mutare, Masvingo and Kwekwe, 34, 23 and 15 people have been arrested, respectively.
Crisis in Zimbabwe is a grouping of civil society organisations and coalitions whose vision is a democratic Zimbabwe. The Coalition’s mandate is to address the twin questions of governance and legitimacy.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition¨¨¨Tel/Fax: +263 4 747 817¨¨¨Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We call on all businesses to heed the call to remain
closed until the weekend.
The list below will be forwarded to our colleagues in the ZCTU. These companies clearly can afford to meet the full costs that are impacting on their workforces.
Almost all of Harare was closed on the first day of the week of action. However there were a few who did not feel like being supportive:
News Café Newlands
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Bulawayo Businesses Open
Amtec Parts Centre
Hillside Chicken Inn
Hillside Post Office
Hot Bread Shop
Johnson & Fletcher
Standard Bank Main
Swift town depot
Victoria Falls Businesses Open
Main streets and tourist shopping area
All the Banks
Reed Buck Safaris
Super Saver Bottle Store
Vic Falls Pharmacy
Masvingo Businesses Open
Beitbridge Businesses Open
Allan Wack Shipping
Beit Bridge Pharmacy
Footloose (2 Shops)
G A Freight
Matopo Book Shop
N & R Enterprises
Power Sales (3 X Shops)
Zbs (Zimbabwe Bldgs Society)
Zimbabwe Press Release 10 (1130 hrs)
George Palmer was beaten by riot police in the Bulawayo townships. He was visited by a senior officer of the ZRP and told to close his business as it was the safest thing to do. Palmer then approached a police vehicle, with a riot police contingent on board, and was then assaulted.
Duke De Coudray was arrested and charged with contempt of court, a reference to the interdict preventing the demonstrations going ahead. His business has been locked and staff are trapped inside. Workers have been sent home. He is presently in court.
Reports have been received of beatings in Mucheke yesterday evening in direct response to the day’s stay away.
Throughout the country, police details and CIO/Law and Order are visiting businesses and businessmen in their homes threatening various consequences for closing. They are at times claiming that their licenses will be withdrawn.
Zimbabwe Press Release 11 (14.45hrs)
Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube Coerced by Police to Issue Statement
Yesterday the MDC Mayor was visited at his home after lunch. He traveled to Central Poice Station where he was detained at 2.50pm by officers of the Law and Order Section Messrs Mlotshwa and Sibanda. He was taken to Central Police Station, then moved to the CID offices at Cabs buildings and finally returned to Central.
Initially Ncube was pressurised to make a statement through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the Government run press to the effect that he urges all workers to report to work. The Mayor refused to make any such statement.
Mayor Ndabeni Ncube was then coerced into writing a police dictated statement that at the request of the police he would make an effort to open the Bulawayo City Council revenue hall for the week.
He was charged under POSA (Public Order and Security Act) Section 5(2)(b), on the grounds that he incited council workers to follow the call for a national stay-away. Under coercion the Mayor put the abovementioned statement as his response to the charge.
Having made the statement the Mayor was then released.
The arrest of key MDC activists continues. Several people were arrested yesterday, however their cases only came to the attention of the human rights lawyers late this morning.
Victor Nyoni, Welfare Officer of the Southern Region, was moved from Western Commonage and is now being held at Bulawayo Central Police Station with his associates, Limukani Ndluvu, Stanley Dube and Bekitemba Mpofu.
Also at Central are Dumisani Ncube, MDC Chairman of Nketa, and Suzie Moyo.
The human rights lawyers are at times finding it difficult to gain access to their clients but report that things are running fairly smoothly.
Many of the businesses that did open yesterday were marked overnight by a covert group of “graffiti” activists. They marked these businesses with a large black “C” for collaborator. By 8am many of theses signs had already been painted over. (See the attached photograph-“marked business”).
Only around 70 shops and businesses opened in Bulawayo this morning, but many of those were closed by lunch time. The streets of Zimbabwe’s second city are quiet and calm, but with a definite military and police presence in evidence.
By the afternoon both the business and industrial sites were almost totally shut down. Airforce helicopter gunships continued their periodic patrols over the city – one was captured on film this evening flying over the city (see the attachment-“chopper”).
Several reliable reports have come in that state agents are stepping up intimidation of captains of business. One Bulawayo restaurant was forced to open with threats of detention. Later the police attempted to coerce the proprietors by threatening them with a “fine” (bribe) of $1,000,000 to make the threat of arrest and detention go away. This morning the proprietors instructed a senior Bulawayo lawyer to respond to the police’s attempt to extort money in this way.
The home of the Managing Director of a large company that closed down yesterday was visited several times by the CIO last night and threatened his wife with dire consequences. Several others business people have been dragged into Central Police Station and forced to sign affidavits that they will reopen their doors or be charged under POSA.
A heavy police, airforce and army presence was maintained throughout Bulawayo today with numerous reports of police going business by business trying to coerce owners into opening their businesses, largely unsuccessfully . Photograph of a policeman and heavily armed soldier in full battle gear attached - “police and army”.
The business community of Zimbabwe is currently being reminded that it is in no way illegal to close their doors. The state is reverting to desperate measure to pretend all is well in the State of Zimbabwe!
One shop owner reported that he agreed to the police’s demand that he would open, but that he told them he would sit on his own at the door and refuse entry to customers as he would have no staff manning the tills!
George Hungwe and eight other activists were arrested yesterday while massing to march. Two assaults were reported, including the brutal beating of one MDC organizer,Aaron Gwaza, who is still in a private clinic. The roof of another MDC organizer’s home, Mrs Chauke, was destroyed by the Zanu youth brigade (locally known as the “Taliban”) and her daughter assaulted.
Most shops opened in this small town, but this is not surprising as most of the town is owned by Emerson Mnangagwa, ZanuPF Speaker of the House. However, business is dead as most people have stayed home.
Duke de Coudray and Gary Mason have been released from police custody. The public prosecutor stated they were wrongfully arrested and he could not take the case to court. They were initially charged under the bogus “Contempt of Court” ruling that was issued on President Tsvangirai last Sunday evening. The prosecutor stated he would report his findings to the DA, but as a formality.
The Banket Police Member in Charge has coerced business owners to reopen today, but few workers have come in to work.
Police have harassed many MDC activists in this lowveld town. Gerry Whitehead, a prominent activist was taken to the police station for questioning, accused of working against the state under POSA for assisting the organisation of the stay-away, then later released without official charges being laid.
Only 25% of businesses were shut in Chiredzi today. This comes as a direct result of severe intimidation. The police and CIO visited most businesses and promised police protection only if they opened, obviously meaning they would suffer victimization if they remained shut. Despite the shops being open, business was very quiet, most people staying home.
Most businesses were forced to open, but were running on skeleton staff with most staff, workers and customers staying away. There have been no reports of state sponsored violence from there.
Nine people were arrested yesterday. Eight were released and they are Simon Majiso, Makiwa Muchengeti, Jenny Makwavarara, Christopher Maveve, Willard Sumarai, Dennis Mangwiro, Petros Gagwende and Simukiwe (Surname unknown). Mr Nyathi was held overnight and it is still unknown if he was released.