- The last three months have seen an escalation in the number of threats, intimidation and harassment levelled against members of civil society in Zimbabwe, a new report says.
Despite what was thought to be the dawn of a new era for human rights defenders with the formation of a government of national unity, the situation for Zimbabwe's civil society has grown only worse during the last months, according to the new report from Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).
Members of the ZimRights board last week received a series of text messages warning them against pursuing their mandate to conduct civic education in rural areas on the constitution making process. The following text is based on a press release from Zimrights and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights:
Nunurai Jena, ZimRights Regional Chairperson for Mashonaland West received a message saying, "If we give you a task to ask your ZimRights colleagues to slow down and forget about the constitution making process will you do that or else…? Just comply."
Chitungwiza regional chairperson, Netsai Kaitano's message read, "Chipositori nekodzero, kana matongerwo enyika zvinopindirana papi? (How are apostolic faith and rights or politics linked?) Have you forgotten the pain of those beatings. Bidi and Tsunga are gone, Pelagia, Ok, Phulu and Tshuma won't be there anymore, when we will come for you."
Jabulisa Tshuma, the organisation's treasurer's message said, "Mr Treasurer Tshuma, who are your sponsors? You are all over the country. Are you turning ZimRights into a political party? What is the motive of your donors?"
National Director, Okay Machisa who, two weeks ago, received a threatening email from a person claiming to be Dzapasi Mumunda received a message written, "You enjoy flying in and out of the country demonizing your country, why don't you go and stay there? They monitor, soon you will all stay out." In the e-mail, he had been warned that people from Mr Mumunda's office have been tasked with bringing him down. He was advised to "be careful."
The report outlines threats and intimidation addressed to a large group of leading Zimbabwean civil society representatives. It sees a clear trend of an "escalation in threats against civil society" over the last few months, threatening the small gains made in Zimbabwe's democratic transition.
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