25 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Police Slammed for Disrupting Peace Building Meeting

Police in Marondera have been slammed for disrupting a peace building exercise this week, with civic groups warning they are being deliberately 'silenced'.

The meeting on Thursday, organised by the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), was held at Dhirihori in Marondera East constituency. The police claimed that the CCDZ was holding a 'political meeting' and ordered the gathering to end.

The police cited the presence of former ZANU PF official Tracy Mutinhiri who crossed the floor and joined the MDC-T last year. She and other MDC-T activists were at the meeting, which also featured officials from other political parties including ZANU PF.

The CCDZ said on Friday that the police officers who disrupted the meeting accused them of holding an 'illegal' gathering and told participants not to associate with NGOs "because they are agents of the West."

The CCDZ criticised the behaviour of the police, explaining that they are being deliberately blocked from holding any meetings. In Masvingo East Chief Superintendent Mubaiwa denied the group from holding a meeting at Nyika and Mupandawana Growth Points, stating: "they would disturb people from attending their fields since it's a rainy season."

CCDZ director Phillip Pasirayi told SW Radio Africa on Friday that he is "surprised" and disappointed with the police's actions.

"The political space is closing for civic groups and vocal critics. This is part of a ZANU PF strategy to silence their critics and to ensure the only information people receive is from partisan sources," Pasirayi said,

He added: "The attack against civil society activists has intensified in the past few weeks. This is a well-calculated move by government agencies to muzzle vocal organisations."

To contact this reporter email alex@swradioafrica.com or follow on Twitter

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