21 February 2013

Zimbabwe: MP's Home Raided By Security Agents As Crackdown Intensifies

Armed detectives on Wednesday stormed the home of the MDC-T parliamentarian for Luveve, Reginald Moyo, in search of military equipment and communication devices.

Moyo was away in Harare on parliament business when the seven armed officers pounced, although his wife and children were home.

He said: "Seven armed police detectives from Bulawayo Central's Law and Order section raided my home in Luveve suburb.

"I was not at home, but they told my wife that there were looking for military equipment and communication devices, including radios.

"They harassed my wife and kids, asking them unnecessary questions, but they didn't find anything."

The raid on Wednesday follows a police ban on 'specially designed radios' that are 'not compatible with state owned stations'.

Announcing the ban at a press conference on Tuesday, police spokesperson Charity Charamba claimed the devices, particularly SW and AM radios, would be used to communicate hate speech ahead of polls.

Charamba warned that those who received the radios would be arrested together with organisations which distribute them.

Moyo told SW Radio Africa that the officers indicated they would be returning, and almost confiscated a book by the late Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo which they deemed 'subversive'.

Surprisingly, the police did not take away the three shortwave radio receivers that were at Moyo's house.

Moyo said the raid appeared to be part of a well-designed plot by ZANU PF to use the partisan police force to crack down on civil society and opposition party supporters, ahead of the referendum and elections scheduled for this year.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said he was not aware of the incident and would not comment.

Meanwhile the home of former Gwanda North MDC legislator Thandeko Zinti Mkandla was on Saturday also raided by six officers from Gwanda police station looking for subversive material.

Mkandla told us that the officers said they were acting on intelligence that he possessed smuggled electrical goods, including televisions and radio receivers.

Mkandla, who was at home at the time, said the officers did not find anything and left empty-handed.

"This is nothing short of political harassment, a strategy by ZANU PF to frustrate those individuals that they see as a threat in the forthcoming elections," Mkandla said.

In the past week there has been a steady rise in the number of human rights activists and MDC members being arrested or harassed by security forces, as reported by this station.

On Tuesday police ransacked the Harare and Masvingo offices of Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), the country's biggest independent elections watchdog group, looking for the same radios. ZESN's Masvingo offices were again raided Thursday by as yet to be identified individuals.

The massive crackdown is likely to affect rural people most of whom rely on radios to listen to popular short wave stations such as Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa.

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