United States condemns ‘partisan’ ZRP

The United States yesterday condemned the heavy handed way police put down protests by members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) this week saying it damaged the reputation of the force.

Report by Blondie Ndebele

Police on Thursday severely assaulted Woza members who were protesting against the arrest of their leader Magodonga Mahlangu in Bulawayo during a peaceful demonstration.

The previous day another Woza peaceful demonstration against the imposition of the draft constitution had been brutally crushed by police in Harare.

Bruce Wharton, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe said the unequal application of the rule of law threatened the country’s stability and prosperity.

“Since November, we have seen elements of the Zimbabwe Republic Police engage in a clear pattern of harassment through arbitrary detentions, politically-motivated searches, and arrests on spurious charges against individuals and entities that are operating within the law,” he said in a statement.

“At the same time, the distorted political environment of the past decade has threatened an environment in which sectors of society reject what they see as unjust and unfair laws and therefore act intentionally in violation of the law.”

Wharton added: “Together, these two dynamic threaten to trap Zimbabwe in a counterproductive cycle of instability.”

He said the US was concerned about the increased use of disproportionate force against peaceful protestors in Zimbabwe.

“Undue force against peacefully assembled citizens is never appropriate,” he said “As (US) President (Barack) Obama’s representative here, I am deeply concerned about the pattern of harassment of civil society organisations and the use of violence against civilians.

“That sort of action is terribly damaging to the reputation of the police force, to the society they should serve, and to the wider reputation of a community,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by the United States based Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), which expressed concern at the clampdown against civil society.

“The seeming disregard for civic activism in Zimbabwe and the repeated instances of police brutality are very troubling said Santiago A. Canton, the director of Partners for Human Rights at the RFK Centre in a statement.

“We urge the government of Zimbabwe to respect the basic rights to peaceful assembly and association and respectifully remind President (Robert) Mugabe and Prime Minister (Morgan) Tsvangirai of their public calls for peace and tolerance in the lead up to the elections.”

Local groups also weighed in with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) charging that the police’s reaction to the Woza protests was ‘inappropriate and a sign of insincerity’
“It is also disheartening that this comes a few hours after their behaviour and attitude towards members of the civil society had been discussed in Parliament and the responsible ministry assigned to put to an end to such incidences,” Zimrights said in a statement.

“The government has to stop this kind of behaviour because it is curtailing the operations of NGOs.”

Effie Ncube, the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations chairperson Effie Ncube said the conduct by the police was deplorable.
“An attempt by the police to block such activities is undemocratic,” he said.

“We salute the work done by Woza in fighting for the rights of the people to democracy.”

However, provincial police spokesperson Mandlenkosi Moyo yesterday insisted no Woza leader had been detained despite the women besieging the Bulawayo Central Police state demanding Mahlangu’s release.

“As far as we are concerned in Bulawayo we did not arrest these people and they were not detained,” he said.

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  1. Wht cn thy say? U dnt feel free in ur own land, whts tht?!

  2. igaroziva tichagara tirimuhunhapwa ka Chihuri ne vakomana vake vakasashandisa gwara riri pamutemo.

  3. Come Elections,and she shall put to an end such roudy behaviour being displayed by Zanu Repulic Police

  4. And we brag and say the elections are going to be free and fair,if a few harmless women cannot walk freely in their own country.We are too immature to run a free and fair election.

  5. I hear people saying south africa is not free,what can you say abt zimbo where disagreeing with the president is a crime,gathering of people more than 12 needs police clearance,if you support a party that is not considered correct your business cannot operate smoothly.zimbabwe is not free as we claim,not yet uhuru

    1. Mbizo got it 100% right. I am not sure which part of statement t. Musekiwa is not convinced about.
      Mbizo has just stated what people say publicly. Why is our policy if it is national body fails to enforce the law where and when there is an apparant blatant disregard of the laws of the country by a particular section of the soceity and sees it fit to hunt for a thin veil of excuses to come down heavily on law abiding citizens? ZRP management is partisan and they can not deny it as they are on recording confirming this point. ZRP should carry out their work without fear or favour. Unfortunately they do fear and favour.

  6. Though I respect yr Excellence view but it seems yr statement is so one sided that it fails to convince anybody of yr impartiality on this issue.Policing a demostration has never bn easy and sometimes force has to be used to achieve the objective.Was the demostration sanctioned according to the laws of our land and if so I find no reason why the police wld disrupt it and it seems the demostration wasnt sanctioned and its obvious the police shld disperse the crowd.The blame is not on the ZRP since they are applying what is in our laws.

    1. It is worrying indeed. When the police threatens the very people it is supposed to protect .. The police are not a party structure but an institution of government. A government is for everyone including those who do not support the party in power. Unfortunately this distinction is lost on our current leaders. They cannot separate party politics from government. This is why most police commissioners and army generals have pledged their loyalty to Zanu pf, which in itself violates their constitutional mandate, which is to protect the people, meaning you and me in general. It is also quite unfortunate that even some government ministers see nothing wrong with this . THIS shows that most of what is written on paper is a waste of time if you look at the gnu article (ARTICLE XIII
      State organs and institutions
      1 State organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties) So the police are tools of the state and are been well used . and on the freedom to assembly (ARTICLE XII
      12. Freedoms of Assembly and Association
      12.1 Recognising the importance of the freedoms of assembly and association in a multi-party democracy and noting that public meetings have to be conducted in a free, peaceful and democratic manner in accordance with the law) this article is on paper and still not implemented four years on

  7. U.S.A has a notorius detention centre for muslim prisoneers . Where the us military uses tortue. The U.S must shut up .

    1. Even if the U.S. is wrong its still bad to beat up women…or do we still have wife batterers in the 21st century?

  8. Musekiwa muzukuru waMugabe he doesnt see wrong, what happens when a group of thugs masquaranding as war veterans storm into the office of Finance Minister and causing mayhem? where was the so called police? folding their hands watching from a distance! Zimbabwe issue not yet free!

  9. @Justice,the part am nt convinced abt is that the report or rather the statment doesnt spell out why those women were attacked by tthe police.I think u wil agree wit me that its impractical for the police to just beat innocent pple for no apparent reason.No sane persoon wil ever do that.What I only highlited is that its not the police but the laws which we put that are not good.At law every gathering shld notify the police of their demostration and the police wil or wil not give the go ahead.Thus in this case I suspect those women werent given permission to hold their demostration and it follows that they wil be dispersed .In my opinion ,its not the police who shld be attacked but the law whch is bad.

  10. @musekiwa plz b objective. thr z nothin wrng in police breakn down an unsanctioned demo, bt whn e’ rule of law is applied whn tht demo z nt pro-zanu of politically correct, thn thts wrng! whr wr e’ police whn war vets stormed in biti’s offices or whn tht lady stripped naked in frnt of that us ambassador? our cops r so partisn, its disgraceful. shame!

  11. Can someone drop a copy of POSA at US embassy for Wharton’s benefit before he starts opening his stinking mouth to waffle what he doesn’t know. @ Musekiwa is very right. The rule of law ethic iplies that we have to govern within the boundaries of law. Our law does not forbid demonstrations but has laid down procedure for such to take place lawfully. Now if a certain group, particularly WOZA, decides that it will be law unto itself and just demonstrate outside the confines of law I personally do not see anything wrong with the “batai munhu” policy by Augustine’s boys. Even in America when you do something forbidden at law police will arrest so what should change in Zim. Wharton if you have nothing to do just lick your fuck’n ass

  12. why usa is aganist zim govement? They must be looking thier problem not ours. Its zim not america.

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