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Cousin Zilala claims that Amnesty International forced him to resign.

Amnesty International has suspended its branch in Zimbabwe over massive fraud and serious mismanagement.

In a statement, Amnesty International said, “The International Board of Amnesty International has taken the unprecedented step of suspending Amnesty International Zimbabwe (AIZ) from the global movement and placing it under administration following evidence of fraud and serious financial misconduct.

“An extensive forensic audit was conducted in late 2018 which uncovered evidence of fraud and serious financial mismanagement by individuals in AIZ. National law enforcement agencies were notified of the findings earlier this year and the organization also commenced the legal process of civil recovery in order to recoup lost funds.”

Amnesty International’s International Board assured the public that since the allegations first came to light, urgent financial risk management measures have been put in place to ensure anti-fraud and corruption procedures are adhered to and that donor funds are safe.

“… The decision has been made to take extraordinary measures on AIZ to protect the reputation, integrity and operation of the movement. It is with regret that it is now clear that AIZ has not been able to take the necessary steps in its duty of good governance.

“Amnesty International is committed to working hand in glove with the appropriate authorities and is providing full assistance to all current investigations to ensure that any individual found to have been involved in misconduct is held to account.”

Amnesty International Southern Africa’s media manager, Robert Shivambu, declined to comment further saying investigations are in progress.

However, the former director of AIZ, Cousin Zilala, claims that he was forced to step down by top officials who later conducted a forensic audit without having his input.

“They forced me to leave and started conducting a forensic audit without my input and some of my colleagues Takesure Musiyiwa and Sibongile Zimbeva who were also told to step down. We were cleared of any wrong doing by the police and now we are demanding $3 million from Amnesty International for defamation.”

There was no immediate police comment.

Civil society leaders facing renewed state repression in Zimbabwe.

The United States says Zimbabwe should stop harassing civil society leaders amid calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to free all citizens arrested in the past few days following reports of planned streets protests over the deteriorating economic situation in the southern African nation.

In a tweet Wednesday, the U.S Embassy in Harare said, “Harassment and targeted arrests of civil society leaders damages Zimbabwe’s reputation and economic future. We call on the Zimbabwean government to uphold its constitution, respect rule of law, and foster an environment where all can contribute to the nation’s progress.

Civil society leaders appearing in court ...
Civil society leaders appearing in court ...

“All citizens and their civic leaders, political parties, or civil society organizations have the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and association. All have important roles to play in contributing to Zimbabwe’s future and must be given the space and freedom to do so.”

Police arrested Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lawmaker Joanna Mamombe on Wednesday and charged her with violating some sections of the Electoral Act.

According to party spokesperson, Jacoba Mafume, Mamombe allegedly provided a false address to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before the 2018 general elections.

Mamombe, who was granted bail, is currently facing treason charges emanating from violent protests over fuel price increases announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in January this year. Prosecutors claim that she was planning to overthrow the government.

Her arrest follows the recent crackdown on civic society leaders who were picked up by state security agents at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport for planning to overthrow Mnangagwa’s government.

At the same time, Amnesty International has condemned the arrest on Monday of civic society leaders Stabile Dewah and Rita Nyamupinga and five others currently charged with attempting to overthrow the Zimbabwean government.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In a statement, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said, “The first five human rights defenders arrested are facing trumped up charges for exercising their human rights. They should be released immediately and unconditionally. The charges against them fit into a much wider pattern of repression we have documented in Zimbabwe.”

George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Nyasha Mpahlo and Farirai Gumbonzvanda have been accused of “plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government”.

The two activists arrested Wednesday are also likely to be charged with subverting a constitutional government.

“Since January’s protests we have witnessed a mounting crackdown on human rights defenders and activists. Lawyers, journalists and even medical doctors have not been spared. Zimbabwe’s authorities have declared anyone who exercises their right to freedom expression and association an enemy of the state. This witch-hunt must stop,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.

The activists, who were arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, have been accused of attending a workshop organised by a Serbian non-governmental organization in the Maldives called the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). They were formally charged with plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government on May 21 and remanded in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

Police confiscated their laptops and mobile phones, which were reportedly handed over to the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe “for extraction of evidence”. The evidence, including some notes recorded during the meeting, will be produced in court as evidence against the activists.

“Zimbabwean authorities must stop using trumped-up charges to intimidate and harass human rights defenders and civil society leaders. The rights to freedom of expression and association are not just ‘nice to have’ constitutional requirements; they are legal human rights that all Zimbabweans must live and enjoy every day,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.

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