8 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Transform Zimbabwe Leader Charged for Praying

Police have been accused of harassment and intimidation after they detained opposition party leader Jacob Ngarivhume and forced him to admit to breaking security laws when he preached and prayed in a church in Nyanga.

The charges relate to a sermon and prayer which the Transform Zim party leader delivered to congregants at the Holy Cross Church in Nyanga on July 18th.

According to the police Ngarivhume's sermon and prayer amounted to a political address for which he should have sought clearance, as required by the Public order and Security Act.

For that Ngarivhume was forced to sign a warned-and-cautioned statement and further detained for six hours by Nyanga police. The opposition leader left the police station when his legal adviser challenged the detention.

Party spokesman Sungai Mazando told SW Radio Africa that as a prayer driven entity, Transform Zimbabwe believes in the physical and spiritual fulfilment of individuals.

"During that meeting our leader prayed for peace, transformation and the restoration of the Zim economy. He prayed for God's grace to enable Zimbabweans to survive these trying times," Mazando said on Friday.

Since the launch of the party in December last year officials from Transform Zim have been in and out of different police stations across the country in what the party views as an attempt to harass and intimidate its leadership.

Last month senior official Pauline Mutasa was detained overnight by Nyanga police and then released without charge.

This week Wednesday 13 party supporters appeared in court in Gweru on criminal charges of participating in a gathering with the intention to promote public violence. The case is ongoing.

Ngarivhume himself has been detained in stations including Tsholotsho, Gweru, Tsholotsho and Chimanimani for allegedly addressing illegal gatherings.

"This is intimidation. The arrests, summons, detentions are intended to divert our president's efforts from blazing the campaign trail into focusing on court cases. We can see that the aim is to dampen our morale and slow down the inevitable progress that Transform Zim is making on the ground," Mazando said.

Mazando added: "As a party we condemn the use of illegitimate pieces of legislation to silence pro-democracy voices. We will not be silenced or intimidated but we would like to challenge the police to act according to their constitutional mandate and protect every Zimbabwean without fear, favour or considering ethnic background or political orientation."

Zimbabwe's partisan security forces use the country's criminal and security laws to harass, intimidate and detain anyone who opposes or does not support ZANU PF.

As well as resisting calls for security sector reforms, the ZANU PF government is also silent about aligning the disputed laws to the new constitution. Until this happens, politicians such as Ngarivhume will continue to be harassed and their activities curtailed, a situation that does not augur well for the 2018 elections.


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