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Police in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Continue to Hold Arrested Civic Activist

Two senior officials of Zimbabwe's National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations arrested in Victoria Falls on Sunday on charges of holding a political meeting without a police clearance and issuing a political statement were not arraigned on Monday as expected.

But one of the two civic activists was released for medical reasons on Monday, sources said.

Police detained NANGO Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe and Chairwoman Dadirai Chikwengo at the Victoria Falls Airport as they prepared to return to Harare. Authorities said they were being charged under the Public Order and Security Act or POSA.

Chikwengo was released into the custody of her lawyers Monday evening on medical grounds, but Zinhumwe remained in custody, sources close to the situation said.

Their arrest followed a meeting of directors of NANGO member organizations in the resort town. NANGO sources said police interrogated NANGO Board Secretary Godwin Phiri for more than two hours before releasing him.

At the end of the two-day meeting Saturday, NANGO issued a statement expressing concern about the crisis within the unity government and urging all the parties to the power-sharing arrangement to fulfill the obligations undertaken in the 2008 Global Political Agreement.

The statement called for the immediate intervention by the Southern African Development Community and the African Union as guarantors of the GPA.

Attorney Kucaca Phulu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing the two NANGO executives, declined to comment.

Board Secretary Phiri told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the police called him Sunday night to summon him to be questioned.

the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum issued a statement condemning the arrest and detention of the two NANGO board members.

The NGO Forum called the actions of police in Victoria Falls “reminiscent of the repression and clampdown on civil society and political opposition forces that was taking place before the inception of the inclusive government.” It demanded the urgent release of the two.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...