Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Charges against three Mthwakazi Liberation
Front ( MLF ) leaders , who were arrested last
week for alleged subversion of a constitutional
government, were Monday altered to treason
which attracts the death penalty.
John Gazi , Paul Siwela and Charles Thomas will
appear in court today for trial.
They had initialy been brought to court
yesterday , but because of the new circumstance
did not appear before any magistrate and were
instead kept in the courts ’ holding cells .
The activists are being represented by a defence
team led by Advocate Lucas Nkomo and
includes Sindiso Mazibisa , Robert Ndlovu and
Matshobana Ncube .
Mazibisa said police had initially charged his
clients under Section 20 of the Criminal Law
( Codification and Reform ) Act ( subversion of a
constitutional government ) , but the charge was
altered in the holding cells without warned-and –
cautioned statements recorded.
“ They are now saying the trio distributed flyers
and calendars urging people to do the Egypt ,
Tunisia and Ethiopia and I don’ t know where
Ethiopia is coming from ,” said Mazibisa .
“ They are also saying on March 1, they held an
executive meeting in Bulawayo where they
mooted to overthrow the government. ”
The lawyer said what was strange was that the
police only decided to change the charges at
3pm yesterday yet his clients were arrested last
week.
“ The charges were changed in the court holding
cells and no warned-and -cautioned statements
were recorded from them . They had to go back
to the police station and recharge them . We
could not go into court without seeing the
papers because we are challenging remand ,”
said Mazibisa .
Contacted for comment, the Criminal
Investigation Department coordinator for
Matabeleland region , Assistant Commissioner
Erasmus Makodza , confirmed the development .
“ They will appear in court Tuesday . They are
being charged with treason, ” he said .
MLF is pushing for a separate Matabeleland
state.
The group formally wrote to President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
demanding the creation of a separate state
citing “ continued marginalisation ” of the
Matabeleland region .

RICHARD MUPONDE | BULAWAYO – Mar 07
2011 20 : 09
http://www.newsday.co.zw

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Harare , Zimbabwe (CNN) — A court in
Zimbabwe ruled Monday that six of 45 political
and civil society activists arrested last month on
charges of plotting to topple President Robert
Mugabe in a Tunisian-Egyptian style uprising
face a trial on treason charges and could be
executed if convicted .
” Merely listening to treasonous utterances is not
criminal ,” said Harare Magistrate Munamato
Mutevedzi as he freed 39 of the 45 activists who
have been detained since February 19 .
He said the six others must face trial because
they had organized and spoken at the meeting .
Mutevedzi ordered the six social and human
rights activists held , including former Movement
for Democratic Change Member of Parliament
Munyaradzi Gwisai .
They now await a trial date at the High Court on
treason charges, which carry the death sentence
in Zimbabwe.
” You can apply for bail at the High Court since
the offense you are facing is a scheduled
offense which cannot be entertained by a
magistrate court ,” said Mutevedzi, referring to
the six.
Immediately after the ruling , the activists ‘
attorney Charles Kwaramba told the court that
his clients were being detained in solitary
confinement while the women were being
forced to work at the prison .
” We seriously object to this . They are still
innocent and there is no need to punish them , “
said Kwaramba . ” Their right of liberty is being
seriously infringed . That amounts to slavery . It
must not be allowed in a democratic society . “
Last week , the United States expressed concern
about their arrests and allegations by their
lawyer that some of them were tortured.
The activists were arrested and charged with
treason after they were caught watching footage
of the protests that led to the ouster of Tunisian
leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak .
At least 12 of the activists were beaten with
broomsticks on their buttocks and the soles of
their feet, according to their attorneys .
Robert Mugabe, 87 , has ruled Zimbabwe since
1980 . Like Mubarak and Ben Ali, he has been
accused of rigging elections and instituting
repressive laws to tighten his grip on power .
Political observers have suggested the arrests
may be an indication that authorities are
worried that the changes sweeping across north
Africa may inspire Zimbabweans to rise up .

From Columbus S . Mavhunga , CNN
March 7 , 2011 — Updated 1429 GMT ( 2229
HKT )

Bulawayo police have banned street protests,
rallies and meetings by political parties and civic
groups citing a hostile environment , a measure
observers described as “ symptomatic of regimes
without the people’ s mandate ” .
Police were denying political parties, other than
Zanu PF , and civic groups permission to hold
rallies on the back of suspicion the gatherings
could plot North Africa-style anti -government
uprisings .
The ban was prompted by fear the meetings
could be hijacked and used as a launchpad for
anti -President Robert Mugabe protests .
This comes at a time International Socialist
Organisation general coordinator Munyaradzi
Gwisai and 45 others are in remand prison for
allegedly planning an Egypt -style uprising
against President Mugabe ’ s rule.
Over the past few weeks, Bulawayo police have
denied the two MDCs and political pressure
groups permission to hold rallies, protests and
political meetings .
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Felix
Magalela Sibanda said the move had adversely
affected the party’ s preparations ahead of its
elective congress set for May .
“ The police are saying our meetings are
cancelled indefinitely . . . there is just no
justification for the cancellation of our
meetings , ” said Sibanda .
Last week , MDC- T MP for Bulawayo Central
Dorcas Sibanda was briefly detained for
allegedly organising a meeting perceived to
support anti -President Mugabe protests .
She was arrested during a fund- raising event for
Mpilo Central Hospital .
On Monday last week, police arrested over 22
Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise ( Woza /
Moza) activists for holding a burial society
meeting in Entumbane and charged them with
planning anti -government protests .
Last Wednesday , police denied the Bulawayo
Progressive Residents ’ Association ( BPRA )
permission to hold street protests against poor
service delivery, saying “ they were given a
directive not to clear any meetings or
demonstrations ” .
BPRA said the “ move by the police is an affront
to freedom of expression and the right of
Zimbabweans to assembly” , adding the
association was considering taking legal action
against police .
Tsepiso Mpofu , the coordinator for the Youth
Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe, which is
spearheading a programme to assist youths
with voter registration, last week said her
association had also been denied permission to
hold meetings in high -density suburbs .
Edwin Ndlovu, the spokesperson for the
Welshman Ncube – led MDC, said their party
meetings had also been stopped on flimsy
grounds .
“ Police were clear and told us that they cannot
allow us to go ahead with our meetings because
we will use them to launch anti -government
protests, ” Ndlovu said .
Analysts , however , condemned the move by the
police as unconstitutional .
Rodrick Fayayo , a Bulawayo-based
commentator , said : “ It’ s symptomatic of
regimes without the people’ s mandate . They are
scared of the demonstrations they see in North
Africa, that is why they are closing space . ”
Acting Bulawayo police provincial spokesperson
Inspector Precious Simango could neither
confirm nor deny that police had officially
suspended political meetings , rallies and
protests.
“ There are reasons why those meetings , rallies
and protests were not sanctioned by the
regulating authorities,” Simango said , but
refused to state the reasons.

NQOBANI NDLOVU | BULAWAYO – Mar 06
2011 18 : 48
http://www.newsday.co.zw

UNITED NATIONS ( Reuters) – The United
Nations is investigating suspected arms
transfers from Zimbabwe to Ivory Coast’s
incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo in violation
of U . N . sanctions , according to a report
obtained by Reuters.
The report emerged after a week of gun
battles between forces loyal to Gbagbo and his
rival Alassane Ouattara , almost universally
recognized as winner of a November 28 poll,
that risk pushing the top cocoa grower back to
full -blown civil war .
Diplomats on the U . N . Security Council said
the possible transfer of weapons to Gbagbo
was a serious matter. They said his forces
could use them against U . N . peacekeepers —
UNOCI, who recognize Ouattara as Ivory
Coast’s president — or Ivorian civilians who
support Ouattara .
UNOCI’ s confidential ” Embargo monitoring
report January 2011 ,” obtained by Reuters on
Thursday , said the mission was gathering more
information on ” the arrival of light weapons
cargoes from Zimbabwe. ” U . N . officials told
Reuters arms from Zimbabwe would have been
intended for Gbagbo and not Ouattara .
In January, Gbagbo sent a special envoy to
Harare to meet with and enlist the support of
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who like
Gbagbo has been accused by his opponents of
election fraud and is under U . S . and European
Union sanctions .
Ivory Coast has been under an arms embargo
since the last bout of serious violence in 2004 ,
when pro -Gbagbo forces bombed French
peacekeepers in the rebel -held north . Analysts
say both sides have repeatedly violated the
embargo.
The report also said UNOCI was monitoring a
shipment of 10 large wooden boxes that ” may
contain trucks or tanks . “
” This cargo has been at Abidjan airport for six
months ,” the UNOCI report said . ” Aerial
pictures confirmed the presence of these
boxes, which are under 24 / 7 hours military
surveillance. “

AIRCRAFT
Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch said
countries aiding Gbagbo should be careful :
” Given the documented pattern of unlawful
attacks on civilians by pro -Gbagbo forces ,
countries violating the arms embargo to
provide weapons to his forces might be
complicit in grave human rights abuses . “
The report spoke of a ” suspected cargo delivery
from Angola ,” involving two Soviet –
manufactured Sukhoi -27 fighter jets and a
Soviet -made MIG- 25 interceptor and
reconnaissance bomber , spotted at San Pedro
airport in Cape Verde, and a Russian cargo
plane seen at Abidjan in January.
The Russian aircraft ” has a considerable cargo
capacity to carry heavy military equipment or a
company of soldiers ,” the report said .
The report did not explicitly say whether the
fighter jets were linked to Gbagbo’s
government. But it said UNOCI had received
information that the ” same ( Russian cargo )
aircraft had supplied equipment to the Ivorian
government in 2005. “
An official at Zimbabwe’ s mission expressed
surprise about the allegation and declined to
comment. Diplomats at Angola ‘ s U . N . mission
were not immediately available for a reaction .
Gbagbo has ordered UNOCI out of the country ,
a demand the mission has ignored . U . N .
troops have been protecting Ouattara , who is
holed up in an Abidjan hotel along with his
advisers.
The UNOCI report is not the first of a possible
transfer of military aircraft to Gbagbo. U . N .
peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy apologized to
Belarus for a U . N . statement on Monday
alleging that an initial shipment of attack
helicopters had arrived in Ivory Coast from
Belarus .
Diplomats said the statement on the helicopter
sale issued by Secretary -General Ban Ki -moon ‘s
press office was based on credible U . S .
intelligence . Ouattara ‘s U . N . envoy Youssoufou
Bamba told reporters that the only incorrect
part of the statement was that a first shipment
had arrived .
” It’s true that he ( Gbagbo) wanted these three
helicopters to be smuggled into Cote d ‘Ivoire
and be assembled,” he said . ” This is something
we have from credible sources of intelligence . “

By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS | Thu Mar 3 , 2011 6 : 01 pm
EST
( Editing by Mohammad Zargham )

Washington (CNN) — The United States
expressed concern Thursday about recent
arrests in Zimbabwe of political and civil society
activists and allegations by their lawyer that
some of them were tortured.
On February 19 , former Movement for
Democratic Change Member of Parliament
Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 other labor union
and student activists ” who had gathered
peacefully to discuss recent events in Egypt “
were arrested and charged with treason , State
Department spokesman Philip J . Crowley said in
a statement .
Other political and civil society activists have
also been arrested, he said.
” Gwisai ‘ s defense attorney has reported that
several of the 46 people were tortured while in
custody, and we understand that the magistrate
has ordered physical examinations to
substantiate those claims,” he said. ” We call on
the government to provide medical attention for
those who need it and , if torture occurred , to
take immediate action to hold the perpetrators
accountable . “
A ruling on the charges’ merits is to be delivered
March 7 .
Crowley called on the government of Zimbabwe
to uphold rights spelled out under the
International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and to ensure that those arrested are
guaranteed due process .
Zimbabwean authorities said the 46 people were
arrested and charged with treason after they
were caught watching footage of the protests
that led to the ouster of Tunisian leader Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak .
” On 16 February they held a meeting and the
purpose of the meeting was to organize,
strategize and implement the removal of a
constitutional government of Zimbabwe by
unconstitutional means , the Tunisian-Egyptian
way ,” prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said last
week in court .
At least 12 of the activists were beaten with
broomsticks on their buttocks and the soles of
their feet, defense attorney Alec Muchadehama
told a packed courtroom on Thursday . All 46
defendants were charged with treason, a charge
that carries a death sentence in Zimbabwe.
” If watching television footage of the uprisings
was treason, most Zimbabweans would be guilty
of it because we watch news daily,”
Muchadehama said .
Robert Mugabe, 87 , has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980 . Like Mubarak and Ben
Ali , he has been accused of rigging elections and
instituting repressive laws to tighten his grip on
power .
The arrests may be an indication that authorities
are worried that the changes sweeping across
north Africa may inspire Zimbabweans to rise
up . The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, which is in a troubled unity
government with Mugabe’ s ZANU-PF , has called
the arrests ” an abuse of state machinery by
ZANU-PF to suppress the people’s views . “
Mugabe ‘s policies over the past decade have
been blamed for plunging the once-prosperous
country into economic crisis . Mugabe has called
for an election this year , but his political rival
and leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, has
threatened to boycott the poll if a referendum
on a new constitution is not held .

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 4 , 2011 — Updated 0151 GMT ( 0951
HKT )

THE United Nations ‘ top human rights official
called yesterday for the release of dozens of
activists arrested in Zimbabwe for discussing the
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia .
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi
Pillay said some of those arrested and charged
with treason , from the International Socialist
Organisation and other social justice and human
rights groups , had alleged they were beaten in
detention .
” The arrests appear to be part of a growing
crackdown on civil society and members of the
political opposition , and are a clear sign that the
establishment of a consolidated democracy in
Zimbabwe is still very far from assured, ” she
said in a statement .
Police in Zimbabwe said they arrested 46 people
in Harare last month as they watched videos of
North African protests and discussed possible
demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where President
Robert Mugabe , 87 , has held power for 31
years .
Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge , has
spoken out in support of protesters in North
Africa and the Middle East and said a crackdown
against demonstrators in Libya could amount to
crimes against humanity. She said yesterday the
uprisings had made it clear ” there is no true
democracy without freedom of expression and
assembly” .
” It is therefore both deeply ironic and disturbing
that, in Zimbabwe, activists are being arrested
and mistreated simply for discussing North
Africans’ efforts to bring about change through
largely peaceful protests, ” she said .
� Zimbabwean police and troops are putting on
a show of force in the capital as calls for
protests against the long -time authoritarian
ruler appear to have gone unheeded.
Armoured cars , trucks of riot police and Israeli –
built water cannon vehicles have swept through
Harare since Saturday , fanning out into
townships around the city . Authorities have
given no official explanation for the display of
force.
Messages , many of them anonymous , posted on
Zimbabwean websites called for protests
yesterday . But there has been no open
campaigning for demonstrators to turn out on
the streets .
Mugabe is scheduled to address a mass rally in
central Harare today. – Reuters , Sapa- AP

Mar 1, 2011 10 : 01 PM | By unknown
http://www.timeslive.co.za

HARARE ( Reuters) – Internet campaigns calling
for protests against the 31 – year rule of President
Robert Mugabe on Tuesday did not lead to any
mass gatherings in Zimbabwe, where police
have threatened to crush any ” Egypt -style “
protests.
The two campaigns , on Facebook and Twitter ,
were trying to start popular uprisings similar to
ones that toppled the long -serving leaders of
Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening Libyan
strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Although there was no unusual security
deployment in Harare on Tuesday , private
newspaper NewsDay reported that soldiers in
armoured troop carriers had been ” sighted ” on
Monday in traditionally restive townships in the
capital.
The Facebook campaign calling for a million
citizen march and a separate one on Twitter
were aimed at bringing down Mugabe, 87 ,
leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabweans in London were planning to burn
an effigy of Mugabe outside of the country ‘ s
embassy in London in support of the Facebook
campaign .
But by mid- morning, there was no sign of any
gathering in the large park in Harare named as
the protest venue by the organisers operating
under the banner FreeZimActivists .
Other parks , normally packed with people, were
largely empty , apparently over people’s fears of
being caught up in any protest .
Zimbabwe’s dominant state media made no
reference to the planned demonstration against
Mugabe, who rights groups say has used
violence and intimidation to crush any
challenges.
Tensions have been running high in the past
weeks, with Mugabe ‘s ZANU- PF pushing for
early elections that officials from the rival and
governing partner MDC party have said could
lead to a bloodbath.
Mugabe was forced into a power -sharing
government with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’ s Movement for Democratic Change
after the controversial 2008 vote that led to
violence and hundreds of thousands fleeing the
country .
Police officials – – who said they would crack
down on any protest — were not immediately
available for comment.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are fearful of speaking
publicly about the call to protest, mindful of
tight security laws with sweeping provisions
against anything that could be viewed as inciting
violence or rebellion against a constitutional
order .
Last week , police arrested 46 people in Harare
as they watched videos of protests in the north
African countries and discussed possible
demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe
plans to run for another five year -term in
elections he wants to call later this year .
ZANU-PF has deployed massive shows of force ,
including using helicopter gunships, against
previous protests .
Critics say Mugabe has used tough policing and
vote -rigging to keep his grip on power despite
an economic crisis in the past decade that many
blame on his mismanagement .

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE ( Reuters)

One of the state witnesses in the treason case
against Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 others is a
member of the state secret security service ,
Jonathan Soko, who gave the court details ,
through an affidavit, how security agents
penetrated the Gwisai meeting without the
organisers of the meeting suspecting anything .
Below is the intelligence officer ’ s affidavit :
“ I Jonathan Soko aged 28 years do hereby make
oath and swear that : I am employed by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police holding the rank of
Detective Sergeant. I am currently attached to
the Criminal Intelligence Unit and based at
Harare Central .
“ I know the accused only in connection with the
case.
“ On 19 February 2011, I was on duty and I was
assigned by my superiors to cover a political
meeting that had not been sanctioned which
was to be held at Cross Roads House, 43 Julius
Nyerere Way , Harare . The intended speakers
were said to be Lovemore Matombo ( ZCTU) ,
Obert Masaruure ( Zinasu ) , J Chirenje ( MPAWUZ ) ,
Munyaradzi Gwisai ( ISO) and chaired by T
Sando ( ISO) ( whom I know as Antionator
Choto ) .
“ I got to the venue at about 13 : 45 hrs before the
meeting had commenced so as ( to avoid) the
vetting process . When the vetting process
commenced outside the room , I was already
seated and it seemed I had already been vetted
so I remained in the room . Over 40 people were
vetted as they entered the room by way of
presenting the programme with the ISO
emblem and headed ‘ ISO calls on workers ,
students and the working people to support the
struggle in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian
workers ’ and stating their organisation and how
they got to know about the meeting . Everyone
who attended was in possession of the invitation
document ( programme) .
“ When everyone was seated the meeting was
called to order by Antonater Choto who told
participants that they were invited for a
revolutionary cause but before deliberations
could start , they were to be shown a video
about the Egyptian revolution as they wait for
other speakers.
“ A video footage of events in the Egyptian revolt
was shown from a laptop computer and
projector by Michael Sozinyu and after the video
Choto told the meeting that Lovemore
Matombo of ZCTU who was billed to speak
could no longer make it to address the meeting
hence they could start . She told the meeting
that the speakers were to deliberate on the
lessons poor Zimbabweans and workers could
learn from the Egypt revolt and how best
Zimbabwe can implement the Egypt revolt so as
to remove a dictator and a system of
oppression.
“ Welcome Zimuto of Zinasu , Hopewell Gumbo
of Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and
Development, Edson Chakuma of the Food and
Allied Workers ’ Union and Munyaradzi Gwisai
( ISO) gave speeches in this order . These
speeches were aimed at inciting public violence
as they told the meeting that it is possible for
the people to revolt against government and
cause the resignation of the president as
witnessed in Egypt . They said what is needed is
unity of purpose , mobilisation and proper
strategising. They said people should start
sending text messages and e -mails urging them
to revolt against the government which they
described as causing the suffering of
Zimbabweans. They said there is need to
remove President Mugabe from office because
he was a dictator. They also said Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai should not be allowed to
replace President Mugabe as he was a capitalist
and a stooge of the West .
“ Choto would moderate after every speaker and
would churn out slogans like viva socialism viva,
a luta continua, abacha chingoyoka which were
responded to by the participants who
participated in the sloganeering .

“ After the speeches Choto invited contributions
from the floor as she asked participants to say
what they had learned from the Egypt revolt
video and what Zimbabweans can do to achieve
what the Egyptians achieved.
“ The meeting was however disrupted at this
juncture and before anyone could speak a word
that police details had surrounded the building
and were demanding entry into the building
reached the meeting .
“ Gwisai then told everyone not to panic and
asked everyone to pretend as if they were
having a church service and this is when Pastor
Reki Jim started church songs and everyone
sang along . Some of the participants however
went to an adjacent phone shop and pretended
to be customers. Gwisai also ordered the
removal of the banner pinned to the walls with
the messages ‘ The choice now is socialism ’ .
He also ordered for the programme to be
collected from everyone .
“ Police details then managed to gain entry and
rounded up everyone and took them to Harare
Police Station . ”

STAFF WRITER | HARARE – Feb 25 2011 19 : 29
http://www.newsday.co.zw

LAWYERS for 46 people facing treason charges
for allegedly plotting an Egyptian- style uprising
yesterday said that some members of the group
were tortured by police.
Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi ordered the
suspects to be held in detention to reappear in
court on Monday , saying only the High Court
was empowered to free them on bail on treason
charges punishable by death .
He ordered that they be given medical
examinations before the hearing to verify
allegations of torture .
Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama told the
court that 12 suspects told lawyers they were
beaten with broomsticks on their bodies,
buttocks and the soles of their feet.
They were arrested on Saturday for attending a
lecture on North African anti -government
protests.
He said others were denied medication and
access to lawyers.
State prosecutors alleged the group of labour
and social activists held the meeting to plan a
revolt against long -time President Robert
Mugabe.
The group says it was an academic study session
and denies wrongdoing.
Muchadehama told the court that delays in
bringing the group to their first court
appearance on Wednesday were illegal because
Zimbabwean law says suspects must be
arraigned within 48 hours of arrest.
Prosecutors alleged the group watched videos of
the Egyptian revolt that brought down Hosni
Mubarak after nearly three decades in power.
Prosecutors also claimed the meeting
participants took turns making speeches calling
for a revolt against Mugabe.
Muchadehama , the defence lawyer , insisted
there were no grounds for treason charges.
“ What happened in Egypt and Tunisia is that
people gathered and demonstrated and their
leaders resigned or abdicated their seats ,” he
said . “ No treason was committed in the two
countries. ”
If watching television footage of the uprisings
was treason, he said, most Zimbabweans would
be guilty of it.
But authorities loyal to Mugabe were “ so
paranoid , ” he said , that anything seen to
challenge Mugabe was termed treason and
subversion .
Prosecutors claim that former opposition
lawmaker Munyaradzi Gwisai , head of the local
branch of the International Socialist
Organization , and the other civic activists were
conducting the meeting to “ organise, strategise
and implement the removal of the constitutional
government of Zimbabwe . . . the Egyptian way . ”
Speaking from the dock , Gwisai said he believed
all citizens had the right to take grievances to
their leaders through open discussion .
Gwisai said he was repeatedly beaten with a
wooden plank and told to confess that he called
for Mugabe ’ s ouster. The beatings were
recorded by his interrogators , he said .
As a public figure, Mugabe should be subject to
political examination and democratic debate
even though democratic institutions in
Zimbabwe are flawed , Gwisai said .
“ Events in Egypt and Tunisia show that the basis
of legitimate power in democratic societies lies
with the people,” he said . “ Marches , singing and
protests are fundamental human rights through
which people can address those who govern
them . ”
He said studying protests elsewhere was
important for “ because people who seek change
and don’ t understand it will repeat the mistakes
of history. ” — AP.

Friday , 25 February 2011 07 : 43

Amnesty International today expressed shock
that at least 45 Zimbabwean activists have been
charged with treason and could face the death
penalty following their arrest at a lecture on the
protests in North Africa.
Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai , a former opposition
parliamentarian , and 44 social justice , trade
union and human rights activists were arrested
by police on Saturday as they were attending a
lecture entitled Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia .
What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and
Africa.
“ This is a clear over-reaction by the state to an
event in which the participants were exercising
their legitimate right to freedom of expression
which the government of Zimbabwe must
guarantee under national and international law, ”
said Michelle Kagari , Amnesty International ’ s
deputy director for Africa.
Amnesty International is also alarmed by reports
that at least seven of the activists , including
Munyaradzi Gwisai , were beaten by security
agents while in custody and called on the
government to investigate the allegations.
“ The safety of detainees remains a serious
concern as the Law and Order Section at Harare
Central Police station has become notorious for
the torture and ill -treatment of activists in their
custody, ” said Michelle Kagari .
“ These persistent abuses demonstrate the need
for urgent reform of Zimbabwe’ s security sector
to bring to an end a culture of impunity for
human rights violations and partisan
enforcement of the law. ”
Defence lawyers told Amnesty International they
had been denied the opportunity to consult their
clients and they were only informed of the
charges facing the activists minutes before they
were brought before the court .
The proceedings were adjourned following
protests from the lawyers and are expected to
resume Monday .
Amnesty International is also concerned about
reports that prison officers at the Magistrates
court in Harare prevented the defence lawyers
from taking instructions from their clients before
they were transferred to Harare Remand Prison
and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison .
“ This restriction of the right of the activists to
access their lawyer is unnecessary and throws
serious doubts on the likelihood the detainees
will receive a fair trial,” said Michelle Kagari .
“ The police continue to selectively apply the law
in favour of President Robert Mugabe’ s ZANU-
PF party . ”
Last month ZANU-PF supporters carried out
attacks against opposition supporters in
Harare ’ s suburb of Mbare , but to date , the
police have not arrested anyone.

Notes to Editors
• Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai is a former Movement
for Democratic Change parliamentarian . He is
now a law lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe and the coordinator of the
Zimbabwean chapter of the International
Socialist Organisation
• The activists are being charged with treason
under Section 20 of the Criminal ( Codification
and Reform ) Act [ Chapter 9: 23 ] or alternatively
“ attempting to overthrow the government by
unconstitutional means under Section 22 ( 2) ( a )
( i) of the Criminal Law ( Codification and
Reform ) Act .

24 February 2011
AI Index : PRE 01 / 084/ 2011
http://www.amnesty.org