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Police raid ZESN offices

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THE Zimbabwe Republic Police yesterday raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in Harare and Masvingo as the onslaught on civil society continues.

Report by Moses Matenga\Tatenda Chitagu

Officers from the police Law and Order section yesterday raided offices of  ZESN.

According to the search warrant that police produced before yesterday’s action in Harare, the raid was to search for  “any subversive material, documents, gadgets or recordings and any illegal immigrants at Number 10 Rochester Road, Belgravia, Harare”.

Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone expressed concern over the continued onslaught on civil society saying the police were becoming an embarrassment, especially as no incriminating evidence emerged out of their actions.

“Its beginning to be an embarrassment because daily we are reciving such reports. It gives an impression of harassment and it becomes difficult for me to defend. I spoke to minister (Kembo) Mohadi and I think we have found a way to deal with the issue,” Makone said.

She declined to say how the two had decided to handle the issue saying they would reveal their plan today. She, however, expressed fears, if the police continued on this path, of the possibility of the outcome of the forthcoming elections being contested.

She said: “It will make any outcome unacceptable. We should ensure the outcome is not contested and (that instead) the loser congratulates the winner.”

The raids come amid Cabinet concerns on the development. Makone and Mohadiwere last week ordered by Cabinet to investigate the police action, especially as complaints indicated unjustified harassment of civil society organisations (CSOs) by the police.

Police recently raided the Zimbabwe Peace Project, ZimRights in Harare and the National Youth Development Trust in Bulawayo searching for evidence of alleged subversion.

There were no arrests made following the raids, sparking claims of election-related intimidation of civil society.

When NewsDay arrived at the ZESN offices during the raid yesterday, police detectives were still conducting their search, but apparently they found nothing.

They left empty-handed, but promised to return.

In Masvingo, suspected State agents broke into the ZESN offices and got away with T-shirts and chairs.

Attempts to take away a desktop computer failed after an alert security guard tipped police bikers on patrol who got to the scene before the agents had completed ransacking the offices.

They then dropped the desktop computer and fled in their gate-away cars — two unmarked twin cab vehicles — according to sources.

Last week Tsvangirai condemned police action on CSOs during his meeting with their representatives and condemned “the vilification and harassment of civil society, which painted a negative image of the country at a time we need all the (world’s) confidence”.

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