Some civil society activists were injured on Wednesday in Bulawayo when suspected Zanu PF supporters disrupted an annual general meeting of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
In a message posted on its Facebook page, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the suspected Zanu PF activists forcibly entered a room in which they were about to vote for a new leadership and disrupted all the proceedings by overturning tables and threatening to beat up people who wanted to fight back.
The organization’s tweet reads in part, “Suspected Zanu PF thugs disrupt Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition AGM in Bulawayo. The thugs defied directives from Hotel security and forced their way into the Annual General Meeting just before the start of the elections. Some members of the Coalition were injured during the disturbances.”
The provincial executive of the ruling party in the city was unreachable for comment as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones. Police were also unreachable for comment.
A video posted on its Facebook page shows some of the suspected Zanu PF activists entering the place where members of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition were holding their annual general meeting and turning tables upside down, resulting in delegates fleeing for their dear lives.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition recently criticized the state-controlled Herald newspaper for publishing a story in which the organization was being accused of being trained by foreign embassies to engage in anti-government protests.
In a statement, the organization said, “Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition notes with concern the latest unfounded and misleading claims by the government mouthpiece [The Herald] that some foreign embassies are training civil society activists to engage in anti-government protests. The story appeared in the Herald of 9 December 2021. These false accusations are meant to justify the Government of Zimbabwe’s continued clampdown on civil society actors. The story appeared in the Herald of 9 December 2021.
“These false accusations are meant to justify the Government of Zimbabwe’s continued clampdown on civil society actors, human rights defenders and ordinary citizens who continue to question the government's chequered human rights record and failure to deliver basic social services and economic development for the country’s citizens. citizens who continue to question the government's chequered human rights record and failure to deliver basic social services and economic development for the country’s citizens.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition further said, “It has become apparent that the Government of Zimbabwe does not want to be held accountable by its citizens, despite proclaiming to be a democratic government. The same modus operandi was used during the August 2018 and January 2019 persecutions which resulted in a spate of abductions, murder, torture and arrest of civil society actors.
“We are concerned that the so-called New Dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to persecute civil society and human rights defenders based on unsubstantiated claims being parroted by the public media. It is unfortunate that the Government of Zimbabwe continues to use the state controlled media in creating false narratives that are meant to justify its continued promulgation and abuse of draconian laws to persecute civil society actors as well as criminalization of civil society work.”
It further said the level of unethical journalism with which the Herald article was authored “is disquieting and highlights a hidden agenda to smear civil society actors. This points to a ploy to further shrink the democratic space ahead of the 2023 elections.
“President Mnangagwa's administration has failed to live up to its pledge of a New Dispensation and continues to perfect the art of persecuting dissenting voices as was witnessed during the days of the late authoritarian, Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe has already begun a treacherous slide into a fully-fledged military dictatorship and as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we shall continue with local, regional as well as international engagements to seek the intervention of pro-democracy forces in stopping authoritarian entrenchment and moving towards the genuine resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis.
“Attempts at silencing civil society actors and other dissenting voices point to a move to create a one party state in Zimbabwe and this goes against the dictates of a democracy. We urge civil society actors in the country to remain vigilant in light of the continued onslaught from the State media and the government. Zimbabwe belongs to all its citizens and no government will take our rights to defend its genuine progression and development.”