Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

Prime Minister , Morgan Tsvangirai Friday
warned the inclusive government would
immediately collapse if he was arrested.
The Prime Minister faces possible arrest for
contempt of court following his condemnation
of a Supreme Court ruling which set aside the
election of former Speaker of the House of
Assembly, Lovemore Moyo.
Sources in the AG’ s office said Tsvangirai was
likely to be charged under Section 82 ( 1 )
subsections ( a ) and ( b ) of the Criminal Law
( Codification and Reform ) Act .
But Tsvangirai told journalists soon after
returning from a regional tour where he was
appraising regional leaders on the deteriorating
state of affairs in the country that his arrest
would be the “ final nail to the delicate and
fragile government” .
“ Well , the thing is that if there were people who
want to arrest me, I am here and I don’ t think I
want to run away ,” Tsvangirai said .
“ I have heard about it ( the arrest) and we will
see how they proceed but that will be the last
nail in this whole delicate and fragile
government. ”
He added : “ I think people should not try to be
over reactive. People should just be calm about
it but I will , of course , be waiting to see what
the charges will be should they decide to
proceed on that .
Last week an angry-looking Tsvangirai attacked
the Supreme Court ruling on former Speaker
He said : “ The decision is a clear reflection of the
state of affairs at the Bench , the Judiciary which
in the post -Dumbutshena and post – Gubbay era
largely discredited itself by becoming a willing
appendage of Zanu PF .
“ Dubious and pro- executive decisions have been
made in this era . ”
Tsvangirai warned yesterday the country could
slide back to “ dark days ” of violence unless
regional leaders helped save the power-sharing
deal with President Robert Mugabe.
The PM said he had met leaders of Botswana ,
Mozambique , Swaziland and Zambia and
briefed them about the growing political
tensions in the country .
The security organ of Sadc which brokered the
power-sharing pact is set to meet in Zambia on
March 31 with Zimbabwe high on the agenda.
Tsvangirai said he will be meeting the Sadc
appointed facilitator in the Zimbabwean crisis,
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa this
weekend , to brief him on the situation in the
country .
“ I have told these fellow leaders that the time
for Sadc to act and deliver is now . And we are
all agreed that Zimbabwe should not be allowed
to decelerate into an implosion ,” he said .
“ I have told the Sadc leaders of the renewed
siege mood in Zimbabwe , the arbitrary arrests,
the crackdown on democratic forces in the
country and the culture of impunity that is
seriously threatening the health and the life of
the inclusive government . ”
He said the civilian authority was no longer in
charge of Zimbabwe and called on Sadc leaders
to intervene and ensure that the country does
not explode into chaos.
“ While I was away in the last four days , it
appears the civilian authority is no longer in
charge and dark and sinister forces have
engaged in a hostile take -over of running the
affairs of the country , with or without the
blessing of some leaders of the civilian
authority, ” said Tsvangirai .
“ Together with civic society and other
democratic forces , we had planned to hold a
major peace rally in Harare tomorrow ( today) to
pray for peace in the country . We had duly
notified the police as required by law. I was told
yesterday that the police have refused to allow
that peaceful rally to proceed , against the
provisions of the law and the letter and spirit of
the GPA.
“ There has been an instruction from the Police
Commissioner -General to effectively ban
meetings when there is a Cabinet decision that
no meetings should be banned . ”
Tsvangirai however said the rally would go
ahead because the ban was illegal .
Yesterday a Harare magistrate, Barbara
Chimboza, ruled the MDC-T rally should not be
held because it was not in the interest of public
order .
Lawyers representing the MDC-T were late
yesterday preparing to file an urgent High Court
application to challenge the ruling .
Police banned MDC-T rallies scheduled for this
weekend , saying Zanu PF had either booked the
venues or was holding its own rallies in close
proximity to where the MDC-T wanted to
assemble .

– Mar 18 2011 17 : 49

JOHANNESBURG – To show how the party led
by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe uses
brute force against its opponents, Elton
Mangoma , a cabinet minister in the country ‘s
troubled power -sharing government, rolled up
a pant leg during a recent interview at his
home to reveal scars from a 2007 police
beating that he said shattered his kneecap.
” If South Africa, the African Union and the
international community fold their arms , then
Zimbabwe can descend into chaos, ” warned
Mr . Mangoma , a leader in the Movement for
Democratic Change, or M. D . C . , the party that
fought Mr . Mugabe ‘s rule for a decade before
regional leaders pressured it into governing
with him for the past two years .
On Thursday , the police came again for Mr .
Mangoma , the minister of energy and power
development, who now stands accused of
criminal abuse of office in a deal to procure
fuel – charges he denied through his lawyer.
Also on Thursday , Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court –
viewed by many as partial to Mr . Mugabe, 87 –
invalidated the 2008 election of a speaker of
Parliament from the Movement for Democratic
The day ‘s events provided yet more evidence of
Zimbabwe’s rapidly deteriorating political
situation .
” The fact of the matter is that Zimbabwe is in a
crisis ,” Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ,
leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, said in a statement on Thursday .
Mr . Tsvangirai , who in March 2007 was badly
beaten at the same police station where Mr .
Mangoma said he was beaten , cited signs of
what he called a campaign by Mr . Mugabe’ s
party, ZANU-PF , to ” promote chaos and fear in
the country ” : 73 meetings of the M. D . C .
banned or disrupted by the police in recent
weeks; assaults on Mr . Tsvangirai ‘s supporters
in the slums of the capital, Harare , and in the
countryside; a propaganda onslaught against
him and his party in the state- controlled media ;
and the arrest and jailing of M. D. C . leaders and
activists opposed to Mr . Mugabe ‘s 31 -year rule.
Mr . Tsvangirai , who won more votes than Mr .
Mugabe in a March 2008 general election but
withdrew before a June runoff after widespread
attacks on his supporters , contended that
members of his party were being hounded by a
police force and criminal justice system
controlled by Mr . Mugabe .
” But ZANU-PF cadres and securocrats who
murdered people in the run-up to the 27 June
election are roaming free, ” Mr . Tsvangirai said .
He said Mr . Mangoma and six activists accused
of treason after watching videos of the
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were ” innocent
victims of a barbaric and senseless
dictatorship . “
Mr . Mugabe ‘s supporters said that the activists
were plotting to overthrow him. Jonathan
Moyo, a member of ZANU- PF ‘s Politburo , wrote
in the Feb . 27 Sunday Mail , a state-controlled
newspaper, that with the uprisings in North
Africa, ” no doubt vigilance has become the
order of the day all around .
” Only God knows why these hopeless copycats,
whose death wish is to be arrested at the
Harare Gardens and be charged with treason in
accordance with the rule of law they love
preaching about, honestly think they can do an
Egypt or Libya in Zimbabwe,” Mr . Moyo wrote.
ZANU-PF ‘ s crackdown seems driven by anxiety
about revolutions against autocratic rulers
sweeping North Africa and the Middle East , as
well as by the party’ s own push for elections
this year – elections that leaders of the
Movement for Democratic Change have warned
could lead to another violent and discredited
election .
In interviews in recent days , spokesmen for
both Mr . Mugabe and his party have said that
the elections must happen this year .
But South Africa, tasked by regional leaders
with brokering Zimbabwe’ s power- sharing deal ,
is pushing back against Mr . Mugabe ‘s rush to
the polls with unusual vigor that marks a
surprising break with its long and much
criticized ” quiet diplomacy ” in responding to its
neighbor ‘ s decade -long economic and political
In a statement on March 1 , Marius Fransman ,
the deputy minister in South Africa’s
Department of International Relations and
Cooperation, said South Africa and the region
took the position that any election held before
Zimbabweans adopted a new constitution
through a referendum would violate the power –
sharing agreement .
Told that ZANU-PF officials had said there
would be an election this year , Lindiwe Zulu , a
special adviser to South Africa’s president ,
Jacob Zuma , said in a recent interview that
pulling one off that soon would take a miracle .
And on a recent visit to Zimbabwe, Ms. Zulu
said , Mr . Zuma ‘s team plainly voiced concern
about a recurrence of violence and
intimidation .
” If they are going to have an election by
October , they would have to do a 360-degree
turnaround at high speed, ” she said .
Even more forceful comments came from
South Africa’ s deputy president , Kgalema
Motlanthe, who acknowledged the harsh
realities confronting his own country , where
more than a third of working – age people are
jobless and often resent the estimated two
million Zimbabweans who have settled here to
escape their devastated homeland .
Mr . Motlanthe called for the next Zimbabwean
elections to be a watershed in the country ‘s
history, free of violence and observed by
international monitors from the region and
Europe, his spokesman , Thabo Masebe,
confirmed .
” It is the will of the Zimbabwean people which
must determine the future of Zimbabwe as a
country , and it is in our interest as a country
that indeed we proceed in that direction ,” Mr .
Motlanthe said last week. ” Because if we fail
and Zimbabwe implodes , literally the border
between Zimbabwe will disappear and we will
sit with all the problems. “

Published: March 11 , 2011

IN a landmark ruling , the Supreme Court
yesterday nullified the election of Mr Lovemore
Moyo ( MDC- T ) as Speaker of Parliament , saying
the process was fraught with irregularities and
in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe .
Mr Moyo was elected Speaker in August 2008
after garnering 110 vo -tes against former MP
Mr Paul The-mba Nyathi who got 98 votes .
The majority decision was that the Clerk of
Parliament Mr Austin Zvo -ma did not properly
conduct the election as required by the
Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The ruling was made in an appeal in which
Tsholotsho North Member of the House of
Assembly Professor Jonathan Moyo ( Zanu- PF ) ,
together with Mr Moses Mzila Ndlovu , Mr Patrick
Dube and Mr Siyabonga Ncube all MDC MPs ,
were challenging the High Court decision that
validated Mr Moyo’ s election .
An appeal can be heard by three or more judges
of the Supreme Court and this particular one
was heard by five judges .
Mr Terence Hussein of Hussein and Ranchhod
law firm , appeared for the quartet while Ms
Choice Da-miso represented Mr Zvoma.
South African Advocate Matthew Chaskalson
acted for Mr Moyo.
Prof Moyo had argued that during the election ,
MDC-T parliamenta -rians were rowdy and some
of them brazenly exposed their completed ballot
papers before they deposited them in the ballot
box .
He had also accused Mr Zvoma of failing to
stamp his authority on the election process .
The effect of the judgment is that there is now a
vacancy for the post of the Speaker of
Parliament .
Mr Moyo, who gave up his seat as MP for the
Speaker ‘ s position , can now no longer sit in
Parliament .
He now has to cross his fingers that MDC-T will
nominate him for the post of Speaker and more
so that the party would be able to garner
sufficient votes to retain the position .
This is far from certain as the numbers and
dynamics in the House have completely changed
since the flawed election .
In the nullified election , six MPs Deputy Prime
Minister Thokozani Khupe , Tendai Biti , Piniel
Denga, Tall Chambati, Amos Chibaya and
Lovemore Moyo displayed their ba -llot papers
before depositing them in the ballot box .
Writing for the majority, Chief Ju-stice Godfrey
Chidyausiku ruled that the vote was not cast in
secrecy as required by the Constitution.
” Parliament is one of the most revered
institutions in any society. It consists of the
highest concentration of the political leadership
of the country . Parliament makes the laws that
we all obey.
” Parliament should , therefore , lead by example
and should scrupulously obey its own laws, ” said
Chief Justice Chidyausiku .
He added that the election of the Speaker
should be an example of how an election should
be conducted .
This, he said , was important in Zimbabwe , which
had been plagued by contestation of election
” Parliament should use the election to set the
best example to the rest of the country . It is
unacceptable that Parliament should seek to
salvage a shambolic and chaotic election of a
Speaker through the doctrine of substantial
compliance ,” said the Chief Justice .
He said the six named MPs did not vote by
secret ballot and therefore , their votes were
The inclusion of such votes in the determination
of the final outcome of the election , he said ,
constituted a failure to comply with Section 39
of the Constitution, as read with Standing Order
The Order provides for the election of Speaker
of Parliament by secret ballot.
” The appeal is allowed with costs , to be paid by
respondents jointly and severally , the one paying
the other to be absolved .
” The order of the court a quo is set aside and
the following substituted . The application
succeeds and the election of second respondent
as Speaker is hereby set aside ,” ruled the Chief
Justice .
Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Paddington
Garwe agreed with the judgment while Deputy
Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justice Wilson
Sandura disagreed.
However , the Chief Justice ‘ s ruling is binding
since it had the majority favour .
Deputy Chief Justice Malaba felt that a voter was
perfectly entitled to reveal his vote during an
In his dissenting judgment , Deputy Chief Justice
Malaba said there was no legal obligation that a
voter must vote secretly adding that he or she
may opt not to vote by secret ballot.
” As the voter must exercise the right to vote for
the Speaker by a secret ballot given on the
ballot paper freely, he or she can waive the right
to the secrecy of the ballot at the time the vote
is cast or at any time before he or she deposits
the ballot paper in the ballot box .
” A secret ballot is not compulsory insofar as the
voter who is not desirous of taking part in the
election by a secret ballot is concerned ,” said
Justice Malaba .
Justice Sandura noted that the Standing Order
was complied with in the election of the
Speaker .
He said of the 208 MPs who voted, only six ( 2 ,9
percent of the total ) displayed their marked
ballot papers before depositing them in the
ballot boxes .
Two hundred and two ( about 97 ,1 percent )
voted in accordance with the provisions of the
Sanding Order, Justice Sandura noted.
” Quite clearly , the degree of non-compliance
was insignificant , whereas the degree of
compliance was nearly one hundred percent .
” In the circumstances, as the object to be
achieved by the Standing Order was achieved
and not defeated or frustrated by the non-
compliance complained of , the degree of the
alleged non-compliance was insignificant. It
follows that the Standing Order was complied
with in the election of the Speaker ,” said Justice

Fidelis Munyoro And Daniel Nemukuyu
Published by the government of Zimbabwe

HARARE ( Reuters) – Zimbabwe’ s Supreme Court
on Thursday nullified the election of the speaker
of parliament , who came from opposition ranks ,
about two years after President Robert
Mugabe’ s party lost the post for the first time .
The country ‘ s highest constitutional court ruled
that the election of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’ s ally , Lovemore Moyo , did not follow
proper procedures after a challenge by a senior
member of Mugabe ‘s ZANU-PF party, lawyers
said .
The ruling is likely to escalate tensions in the
fragile unity government at a time Mugabe’ s
ZANU-PF is pushing for elections this year . This
also means Tsvangirai ‘s MDC will have to fight
for the position again .

Thu Mar 10 , 2011 11 : 33 am GMT

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
“ 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
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 .

2011 20 : 09

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

President Robert Mugabe yesterday made a U –
turn on elections , conceding he would not
unilaterally declare polls.
The President told journalists after officially
launching his Zanu PF party’ s anti -sanctions
campaign in Harare that he would follow the
dictates of the Global Political Agreement ( GPA) ,
which resulted in a power -sharing government
between Zanu PF , MDC-T and MDC.
“ We don’ t do things unilaterally ,” he said.
“ Things must be done properly within the GPA.
The GPA is a vehicle put together to arrange a
process . We have started working on the
process . There has been an outreach and now
we are moving towards drafting the
constitution . ”
President Mugabe has previously accused the
two MDC parties of delaying the new
constitution as a ploy to set back elections .
This was a major climbdown from his earlier
declaration that the country would go to polls
with or without a new constitution .
Addressing journalists in January, on his return
from Singapore , where he had gone on
vacation , President Mugabe threatened to call
for elections to bring to an end the inclusive
“ I have the constitutional right — in the absence
of the GPA position regarding the constitutional
process — to cause an election to be held on
the basis of the old constitution ,” President
Mugabe said then .
He added : “ If they ( MDCs) don’ t want the
constitutional process I will have Parliament
dissolved and go to elections . ”

19 : 08

The Times Editorial : Our government finally
appears to be getting tough on Zimbabwe’s
long -serving authoritarian president . Despite
making all the right noises after he took over the
presidency from Thabo Mbeki , President Jacob
Zuma failed , at least publicly , to depart
significantly from his predecessor ‘s ” softly
softly” approach to dealing with President
Robert Mugabe .
As a result , many Zimbabweans , who have
endured years of misrule under the 87 -year -old
president – as well as under the increasingly
strained ” unity” government of his Zanu -PF and
Morgan Tsvangirai ‘s Movement for Democratic
Change – remain sceptical of Pretoria ‘s claim to
be an honest broker.
Mugabe and his acolytes , who control the police
and military, have sidelined Tsvangirai at every
turn, failing to consult him on key
appointments, frustrating the work of his
finance minister and arresting his supporters –
even his drivers and bodyguards – on spurious
charges. Of late, Mugabe has been threatening
to call an early election despite the fact that a
new constitution is not in place , a precondition
of the agreement underpinning the unity
Though Zuma ‘ s mediators have no doubt been
working hard behind the scenes to resolve the
differences between Zanu -PF and the MDC, the
silence from Pretoria has been deafening .
Until yesterday , that is.
Marius Fransman , the deputy minister of
international relations , took the unusual step of
saying that South Africa would not allow its
neighbour to hold an election until it had met
the outstanding conditions of the power -sharing
agreement , including the adoption of a new
constitution .
Without mentioning Mugabe by name ,
Fransman said ” any calls for an election without
the finalisation of the constitution – making
process are in breach of the [ agreement ] as well
as of the constitution of Zimbabwe . . . which
gives legitimacy to the inclusive government ” .
You can ‘ t put it more clearly than that .

Mar 1, 2011 11 : 07 PM | By The Editor, The
Times Newspaper

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
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
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
“ 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