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Activists denounce police crackdown on CCC members

Activists have denounced the police harassment of members of the opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who were arrested on Sunday at the residence of faction leader Jameson Timba in Harare.

Timba, his son, and 78 others were arrested and charged with gathering with intent to cause public harm and disorderly conduct when they had gathered to commemorate the Day of the African Child, celebrated on June 16.

Lawyers for the 80 arrested claimed that several members need medical treatment as they were brutalized while in custody after police said their meeting was not sanctioned.

Some of the CCC supporters were seen struggling to walk in a video as they made their way to court on Tuesday in Harare.

“June 16 is the Day of the African Child, a commemoration that had nothing to do with rising against the government. It was just a commemoration of the events that took place during apartheid in South Africa, and the day has long been commemorated,” said CCC Bulawayo Spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza, who noted that their counterparts in Harare were not demonstrating.

Chirowodza said the opposition party had not met to demonstrate but to celebrate the day, adding that in Bulawayo, police had blocked their June 16 commemorations.

“It’s not like people were rising up against the government or were conspiring or demonstrating against the government. There was none of that. Jameson Timba had just provided a venue for the commemorations in Harare, and his son is not part of these events,” he said.

According to the CCC activist, it is “shocking” how the police came down heavily on people who were not planning anything sinister.

“People would expect the way the police came down heavily on the people who attended the commemoration to be the sort of action that police would mete out against criminals,” Chirowodza said.

“You find that in our homes, thieves steal copper cables, thugs roam about, especially at night, but don’t get that security cover.”

Chirowodza claimed when police descended on their party members at the Harare event, they subjected them to humiliation.

“The police thought it was actually good to humiliate the people who had come by beating them, making them kneel, walk on their knees, and actually arresting them,” said the activist.

“Attending events is something that should be a right in terms of our constitution. It gives the right to demonstrate, but this wasn’t a demonstration, it was a commemoration. It punctuates Zimbabwe as the poster child of a police state and a dictatorship mainly because of actions of [President Emmerson] Mnangagwa and his government.”

The CCC activist said it was unfortunate how police allocate more resources to oversee members of the opposition as opposed to crime, claiming this can be proven.

“These 80 who were detained are people who are commemorating a particular event. If you were to tell police today that Nelson Chamisa is coming to Bulawayo, you would get an oversubscribed number of police coming to the event. But if you report a crime in progress, the police would be conspicuous by their absence,” he claimed.

A former presidential contender and now opposition politician, Saviour Kasukuwere, also criticized the police actions towards the 80.

“Hatred, brutality, and cruelty define us today! Shame on you! Is this really necessary to treat fellow countrymen like this? Aiwa vakomana handizvo (It is not right),” he said.

Iphithule Maphosa, spokesperson of the Congress for Transformation opposition party, also weighed in, saying it was regrettable that incidents of police brutality against members of the opposition continued unabated.

“I have seen the videos of the CCC members, and it is sad to watch. It is worrying how cases of police brutality against members of the opposition continue even when a threat is not posed,” he said.

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