14 May THE MISSING MDC OFFICIALS
Government must respect civil and political rights of all Zimbabwean citizens. The Zimbabwe Peace Project is deeply concerned about the current reports that three opposition party officials, MDC Youth Assembly Vice Chairperson Cecilia Chimbiri, Secretary for Policy and Harare West legislator, Joanna Mamombe and Youth Deputy Organising Secretary, Netsai Marova, have gone missing after being reportedly arrested at a police roadblock on Wednesday.
The officials, who were part of a group of MDC supporters who staged a flash demonstration against hunger during lockdown in Warren Park, are yet to be located and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which is due to represent them, has so far made futile attempts to establish where they are detained.With government silent on the matter, the incident raises profound concerns that this could be just another suspected state sanctioned enforced disappearance of dissenting voices, given the country’s record of unsolved cases of missing activists.
In addition, the incident can only serve to further polarise an already agitated society and may result in deepened conflict as the country grapples with multiple problems, among them, political volatility, economic meltdown, and the COVID-19 pandemic.In essence of this, ZPP calls on government to immediately establish and publicise where the three missing activists are, and if they are to be charged for any criminal offence, this should be done within the set out procedures, and not in a clandestine and unconstitutional manner.The constitution is clear on the procedures to be followed during an arrest and these include the law enforcement’s obligation to treat suspects with respect and to be brought before a court of law within 48 hours.
Government should be duly reminded that the constitution guarantees that every Zimbabwean citizen has the right to security of person according to Section 52 and the right to make political choices freely, form, join and participate in the activities of a political party or organisation of their choice and campaign freely and peacefully for a political party or cause.