Civil society calls for police protection as threats intensify

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ZimRights boss Okay Machisa has complained about the threats, intimidation and harassment civil society has received over the past three months.

Such developments, he said, put a damper to the year-old inclusive government.

Members of the civil society were victims of harassment, threats and intimidation by political activist out in the rural areas where they had gone to assist in the on-going constitution making process.

He urged government to ensure that police guaranteed protection and safety of people that were out working on the constitution.

Members of his board, said Machisa, last week received a series of threats on their mobile phones.

They were being warned against being part of the of the constitution making process.

One of the messages sent to Nunurai Jena, the ZimRights regional chairperson for Mashonaland West read: “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.”

Netsai Kaitano, regional chairperson for Chitungwiza was also threatened: “Chipositori nekodzero, kana matongerwo enyika zvinopindirana papi? (How are Apostolic Faith and rights or politics linked?) Have you forgotten the pain of those beatings? (Munyaradzi) Bidi and (Arnold) Tsunga are gone (from ZimRights); Pelagia, Ok, (Kucaca) Phulu and Tshuma won’t be there anymore, when we will come for you.”

Machisa too received similar messages by e-mail two weeks ago.

“You enjoy flying in and out of the country demonising your country, why don’t you go and stay there? They monitor, soon you will all stay out.”

ZimRights has since reported the threats to the Harare Central Police Station.

The threats have not been targeted at ZimRights only.

The entire leadership of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe has been forced into hiding following threats on their lives.

Secretary-General of the organisation Getrude Hambira is reported to have fled to South Africa when the threats intensified late last week.