GOVERNMENT’S crackdown on civic activists who took to the streets on Monday in Harare to protest against delays in finalising the allocation of cabinet posts between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai has been described as incompatible with the spirit of the recently signed power-sharing agreement.
Riot police quelled a demonstration by activists from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu), Youth Forum and Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) who were marching to the venue of the Sadc Troika meeting meant to resolve the deadlock on ministries.
About 40 activists were arrested during the protest that saw the riot police firing teargas.
Political analysts said the police acted against the spirit of the all-inclusive government agreement signed on September 15 between President Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC formations —— Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
The parties agreed to respect the rights of all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation and recognise the freedoms of assembly and association, especially done in a free, peaceful and democratic manner.
Eldred Masunungure, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, said though the deal was not legally binding, the behaviour of the police was in total contrast to the spirit of the pact.
Masunungure said: “The problem is that the power-sharing deal is not legally binding. There is nothing that says police should respect human rights or face the law in the deal. It is a statement of intent from a legal standpoint otherwise nothing has changed.”
However, Masunungure said if one viewed it from the spirit of the agreement, government had violated what was agreed on.
“The incidents that occurred this week reflected bad faith. This also goes to explain Tsvangirai’s passport issue. It is dishonest for government to say they don’t have paper when we know people are being given passports everyday. This is just meant to frustrate Tsvangirai and drain him of all energy and enthusiasm,” he said, adding that there was no evidence of sincerity on the part of government. “It looks like all efforts and energy by the government are not directed to resolve the impasse.”
According to the WcoZ, 42 women were waving placards written “tafa nenzara” (“we are dying of hunger”) and “hatina maUS” (“we don’t have US dollars”) to buy in the foreign currency shops, while students and youths complained that the cabinet impasse had affected their lessons as lecturers and teachers were on strike while some universities and colleges were still closed.
ROHR information officer Edgar Chikuvire alleged that a senior Zanu PF official with a team of youths hired from Machipisa abducted four of its members after the demonstration.
Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri on Tuesday confirmed to state media the arrest of 43 women for holding an “illegal” demonstration. They have since paid admission of guilt fines and released.
By Wongai Zhangazha