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Holding Zimbabwe hostage

Analysis: Mugabe is continuing to order spurious arrests of opposition leaders.

 The police have made use of a raft of repressive measures in recent years, most notably the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which contains clauses outlawing any statement that might reflect adversely on Mugabe. Mutambara faces charges under the same law for an opinion piece he wrote for an independent newspaper last year.

The police have also proved zealous in other matters such as arresting two farmers who filmed, at the request of the MDC, the crash site where Tsvangirai’s wife was killed. Their offense was that they arrived before the police.

Some of those accused of planning acts of sabotage or undergoing militia training in Botswana have been granted bail but become victims of a clause that permits the state to prevent their release pending its appeal against bail. Kisimusi Dhlamini, journalist Andrison Manyere and Tsvangirai aide Gandhi Mudzingwa are currently being held by the authorities.

Botswana has rejected any suggestion that it afforded them training, and Amnesty International’s Simeon Mawanza says the charges they face are widely believed to be fabricated.
Even those released have the threat of prosecution hanging over them as the state reserves its right to bring a prosecution by way of summons. Amnesty International last week accused African leaders of a “hands-off attitude” to Zimbabwe.

“They have chosen to look the other way, the human rights watchdog said. “Such action is helping to strengthen the hand of those who fear that the success of this government will lead to their being held accountable for past human rights violations.”

U.S. ambassador James McGee said over the Easter holiday period that those behind last year’s election-related human rights abuses should face trial.

“They must be brought before the courts of law and tried to allow for the nation to move forward,” he said.

The U.S. has said there will be no financial aid to Zimbabwe until there is evidence of a restoration of the rule of law.

More GlobalPost dispatches about Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe's media battles

Changing the face of AIDS in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's new government gets to work

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