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Police Raid Zimbabwe Election Support Network Offices

Police Tuesday raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and reportedly confiscated some of the organization’s policy documents.

Police officers from the Law and Order Section said they were searching for illegal immigrants and subversive materials.

A lawyer representing ZESN, Harrison Nkomo, told VOA that the officers forced their way into the building, located in Harare’s Belgravia suburb.

Mr. Nkomo alleged that only later, after forcing their way into the offices and confiscating some of the organization’s documents, did the police officers produce a search warrant.

He said none of the ZESN officials were arrested during the raid, saying it is unclear just what the police will do next.

ZESN’s regional offices in Masvingo also experienced a breach, though not by uniformed police with a search warrant.

Sources said two Nissan trucks rammed into the Masvingo offices and unidentified men inside the trucks allegedly took a computer and several t-shirts, though this could not be independently verified.
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Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, ZimRights manager who was in custody for nearly two months was released Monday.

ZimRights’ Leo Chamahwinya was released on $1,000 bail with reporting conditions after he was arrested in a police raid of ZimRights offices in December.

The state alleges that Chamahwinya was involved in illegal voter registration and has charged him with conspiracy to commit fraud.

Other civic organizations have been hit by police action as the Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe saw three of its members arrested in Chegutu while conducting voter education.

The organization said its members were telling people they have a right to participate in the forthcoming referendum, which does not break the law.

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said this comes at a time when a number of civil society organizations are working flat out to create awareness among Zimbabweans about the constitutional referendum and general elections.

He charged that the increase in the number of raids and other intimidating activities by the police are motives to deter work of civic society.