Jestina Mukoko under siege again

POLICE last week charged former Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) boss Jestina Mukoko with running an unregistered organisation, but analysts say this illustrated just how much the state was turning the screws on civil society.

BY OUR STAFF

Mukoko, a former ZBC news anchor, has had several run-ins with the police over the past five years and many think this is because of her role in documenting political violence and human rights abuses.

In 2008, she was arrested on charges of recruiting militia for the MDC-T. After months in detention and being later given stringent bail conditions, the Supreme Court ordered a permanent stay of execution.

After the failure to prosecute, it seems the state has picked up from where it left off.

Arnold Tsunga, the director of the Africa Regional Programme of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), said Mukoko had done a sterling job documenting rights violations and silencing her organisation had become imperative for those scared of democratic processes.

“Her harassment has to be seen as an indicator that our elections are unlikely to be free from violence and other forms of manipulation,” he said.

“Jestina’s ZPP has done a good job in monitoring politically motivated violence in rural areas ahead of elections. Silencing her organisation ahead of elections becomes a top priority for forces that are scared of the democratic process.”

Civil society organisations (CSOs), feeling the heat of the police’s clampdown on their activities, said they condemned the sustained and escalating assault on non-governmental organisations involved in civic education, human rights monitoring, public outreach and service provision by the State.

“These flagrant, intimidatory and repressive attacks on civil society organisations and their leaders culminated in the charging of Jestina Mukoko with contravening the Private Voluntary Organisations Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the Customs and Excise Act,” they said in a statement issued on Friday.

“It appears to us that the persecution of Jestina, who is not at any time a fugitive from justice, is a direct victimisation of an individual, who has been a victim of abduction by State security agents. State actions against Jestina were condemned by the Supreme Court and her prosecution quashed.”

The CSOs accused the police of intensive harassment and obstruction of their work “through intimidation, raids, issuance of vague and generalised search warrants, arrests, persecution and prosecution”.
“Such harassment is meant to discredit civil society as unpatriotic and devoid of national interest,” they noted.

“The relentless assault on CSOs and accusing them of several unfounded misdemeanors is to suggest to the public the existence of a wide-ranging conspiracy targeting the stability of the country and to paint civil society organisations as a danger to State security.”
Police last month vowed to crack down on non-governmental organisations saying some posed a serious security threat.

But it is the renewed attack on Mukoko that is likely to raise eyebrows, as it raises the spectre of the violent 2008 crackdown on human rights organisations.

To add insult to injury, the Zimbabwe electoral commission (ZEC) says organisations under police investigations would not be accredited for next weekend’s referendum.

Observers now question whether the raids on the NGOs were not an elaborate ruse by authorities to ensure that these organisations were not permitted to monitor the elections.

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10 Responses to Jestina Mukoko under siege again

  1. cliff March 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    there is collaboration between ZEC, the so called police and Zanu Pf. They are working hand in hand. MDC must be careful.

  2. Cheche March 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Mazitsotsi aya. Zvino rwendo rwuno muchamhanya

  3. Zinyandara March 11, 2013 at 2:41 am #

    What do u mean by ‘spammer’? To sister Jestina ur an inspiration to many of us u’ve treaded where many are scared to tread,dnt worry taakutosvija mwana wamai

  4. td March 11, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    musadaro mazimbo nyika ndeyedu tese iyi amai ava handiwone chavakatadza akarwa hondo neasina munga igaramega here vakarwa hondo chete here

  5. manomano March 11, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Soldier on Jestina, Zimbabwe needs you

    • Gutter Poet March 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      @Manomano- in just a few words you summarised the feeling of the people in the street. Jestina Mukoko, Beatrice Mtetwa and Jenni Williams are warrior females who have carved their place in Zimbabwe’s fight for freedom to ‘exist’, yes for Zibwes to merely exist.

  6. chamboko March 12, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Can someone tell me why they loathe this woman?.She has suffered enough ,but to the perpetrators her turn will come and definately you will be held resp[onsible.Aluta continua Jestina .Victory is certain

  7. Bill March 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    The continual harassment of Jestina is a typical example of how the election will not be free and fair. It’s high time the MDC have their own militia that would match mad Bob”s mob. The baseline is u can’t negotiate with a thug w guns

  8. tongai ticharwa March 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Harahwa iharahwa haimbofa yakadzoka kuita jaha,siyanai naJestina zanu pf yaora…kkkkk

  9. Zanu Yaora March 17, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Ndobasa rayo kushungurudza vanhu chete! This time yaenda
    vanhu takagumbuka chaizvo. Chinokanganwa idemo. Inga muZANU takawanda vadiki, kokuzorora topa vamwe mukana
    zvakaipei.

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