POLICE have raided the offices of a human rights group and arrested one activist, accusing him of conducting illegal voter registration.
Law and Order detectives stormed the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) head office in Harare Thursday and seized the organisation’s deputy national programs coordinator Leo Chamahwinya.
He was still detained at the Harare Police Station late last night. The police accuse the human rights group of conducting illegal and fake voter registration for the next elections.
It is understood the police also wanted to arrest ZIMRIGHTS director Okay Machisa, who is currently out of the country.
The raid quickly drew criticism from other civil society groups which accused the police of being used by Zanu PF to crackdown on dissent ahead of the general elections next year.
“We condemn the ongoing onslaught on NGOs by state security agents,” said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in a statement. “We insist that police must be there to serve the civilians and not protect the regime.
We call for democratic policing in line with modern democracies.”
The organisation said the swoop was reminiscent of a 2008 crackdown that saw even the banning of some humanitarian groups accused by Zanu PF of dabbling in politics.
“This is an attempt to curtail CSOs as was done during the run-up to the 2008 election run-off where then-Minister of Social Welfare Nicholas Goche banned NGO operations,” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition added.
Zanu PF is wary of many civil society groups that it views as agents of the MDC or representing outside influence.