ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns the selective application of the law and abuse of some provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), by some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who arrested Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, a pro-democracy campaigner and lawyer on Saturday 28 October 2017.
Mahere, an aspiring parliamentary candidate for Mt Pleasant constituency in Harare, who had convened a sports tournament at Groombridge Primary School in Mt Pleasant, was arrested, detained and interrogated for about seven hours at two police stations namely Marlborough Police Station and at Harare Central Police Station, where ZRP officers recorded a warned and cautioned statement from her after accusing her of breaching the provisions of POSA.
The ZRP officers then released Mahere, who is represented by David Drury of Honey & Blanckenberg Legal Practitioners, and advised her that they will summon her to report at their offices.
The arrest of Mahere and the disruption of a legitimate sports tournament raise concerns on the sincerity of the authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of association and assembly as well as other fundamental rights as provided in the Constitution and ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The disruption of such a gathering, which is guaranteed in the Constitution due to the imprudent application of POSA is of great concern to ZLHR as it was done in a very heavy handed manner in defiance of the rights of those affected including participants at the sports tournament. It is disturbing that children who were present at this tournament were exposed to this unfortunate conduct by law enforcement agents who gave Mahere barely five minutes to terminate the event. Such a heavy-handed manner of disrupting a sports tournament is not in the best interests of the children.
ZLHR is distressed that ZRP officers as the law enforcement agents continue to conveniently misinterpret the provisions on gatherings provided in POSA.
In any event, POSA is one piece of legislation which urgently needs to be repealed wholly as it does not comply with the Constitution.
The ZRP officers’ actions did not only prevent Mahere from interacting with residents and children from Mt Pleasant constituency but also serve to intimidate other human rights defenders from interacting with people residing in their constituencies.
Therefore, ZLHR urges the ZRP to:
- Immediately drop any charges against Mahere and stop persecuting her.
- Desist from selectively arresting human rights defenders and legitimate political players without adequately investigating and gathering credible evidence to sustain a prosecution.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights