Byo police swoop on civic leaders

Loughty Dube

POLICE in Bulawayo last week rounded up civic organisation leaders in the city on allegations that they were likely to foment trouble during the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZIT

F).


Police on Wednesday last week swooped on the offices of six civic organisations and took away the leaders for questioning.


The six leaders, who were detained for about eight hours by officers from the Law and Order Section, said police alleged that they were planning to cause problems during the ZITF.


The six detained leaders are from Bulawayo Agenda, ZimRights, Peace Initiative Survivors Trust (PIST), an organisation involved in the rehabilitation of Gukurahundi victims, and a leader representing a coalition of churches.


At PIST offices police ransacked the organisation’s library and left with over 200 books that are used by the organisation for its research work.


Bulawayo Agenda director, Gorden Moyo, confirmed his brief detention at Bulawayo central police station.


“It is true that I was detained together with other leaders in the civic society movement. The allegations levelled against us were not clear but the picture that emerged is that we were being intimidated,” Moyo said.


“We were questioned on what activities we were planning during the trade fair. Police warned us that they did not want any noise from civic society that would embarrass the government during the ZITF,” said one of the civic leaders who preferred anonymity.


PIST’s executive director, Felix Mafa, said police raided his organisation’s offices armed with a search warrant and claimed they were looking for subversive material.


“They took away all our literature and as it is we cannot work. We are saying this is clear harassment and intimidation of civic society. We are not going to be moved by such intimidation,” Mafa said.


This is not the first time that police have swooped on civic organisations in the city. Last month they raided the offices of Radio Dialogue and Bulawayo Agenda on allegations that they were looking for subversive material.

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