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POLICE on Tuesday raided the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) offices looking for “subversive materials” in an intensifying crackdown on rights groups ahead of elections.

Officers took away documents in the raid which came just days after officers seized computers and other materials from the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

Rights group have accused the police, seen as an appendage of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, of trying to prevent their programmes to conduct voter education.

In Chegutu last weekend, police arrested members of the Centre for Community Development.

ZESN board chairman Reverend Solomon Zwana said after Tuesday’s raid: “We are currently taking stock of what they have taken from our offices.”

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a political commentator, said the crackdown showed President Robert Mugabe was publicly promising a free and fair election while privately targeting monitoring groups.

“On the ground, Mugabe is organising war. He cannot be believed in politics. Anyone who believes him does not think. He is not a man of his words,” Ruhanya said.

“Civic society should not be deterred from conducting their mandate of educating the masses on their voting rights. They must instead be encouraged by Zanu PF’s heavy-handed response. This means that what they are doing is impacting on the society. This is a clear sign of the good work the NGO’s are doing.”

Zimbabweans will vote during a referendum on the new constitution on March 16, paving the way for elections.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says elections will be held in July, but Mugabe’s Zanu PF party says it is likely to be at the end of May.


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