Armed riot police recently force-marched and dispersed close to 250 members of the National Constitution Assembly (NCA) who had gathered in Filabusi for the organisation’s “Take Charge Campaign” meeting.
The meeting was part of the ongoing NCA strategies seeking to resist the constitution which will come out of the Copac process.
NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said he alongside the organisation’s national youth chairperson, Alois Dzvairo, were briefly detained in Filabusi for two hours and accused of holding such campaign meetings without seeking the approval of the police.
Madhuku said the organisation had successfully held the meeting in other provinces without seeking police clearance.
“We notified the police of our intentions to hold a public meeting,” said Madhuku.
“The NCA condemns the overzealous behaviour and action by the police; such actions are an affront to freedom of association and assembly.
“We reiterate that no amount of fear or intimidation will deter our conviction and commitment in the fight for a just and democratic society.”
He said they tried to reason with the police officers to be allowed to go ahead with the meeting, but it was all in vain. Strenous efforts to get comment from the police proved fruitless by the time of going to print.
The constitutional law expert said after they were dispersed they asked for permission to hold a private meeting at the house of the local chairperson of NCA and the police allowed them to proceed with the private meeting.
“Hardly five minutes into the private meeting police again came and told us to disperse,” said Madhuku.
Madhuku urged the organisation’s membership and the people of Zimbabwe to remain steadfast and resolute in the struggle for a genuine people-driven and democratic constitution.
Police have used the repressive Public Order and Security Act to bar civic society organisations, human rights defenders and opposition political parties from holding public meetings.