An unofficial curfew has been imposed by police in several parts of the
Zimbabwe, illegally restricting movement of people in the evenings.
from our correspondent in Harare
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) says members of the police force have forced citizens to stay indoors after dusk in order to stop them from using the night to campaign for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)party as the March 29 watershed elections draws closer.
The rights group cites the suburbs of Manyame Park, Zengeza, Mabvuku, Tafara and St Mary’s — all in the opposition stronghold of Chitungwiza city — where it said it had received the most reports of police imposing unofficial curfew, especially on youths.
“Some (police) officers operating within these areas are taking it upon
themselves to impose unofficial curfew on the youths. Some concerned youths complain that some police details are harassing and ordering them to stay indoors after dusk, accusing the youths of organising opposition meetings as if it is a crime,” ZimRights said.
Under the government’s Public Order and Security Act, Zimbabweans are
required to first seek permission from the police before gathering in public in groups of more than three to discuss politics.
The Act was however recently relaxed under a raft of legal reforms agreed between the government and the opposition under the mediation of South African President Thabo Mbeki and meant to ensure conditions for free and fair elections.
The amendments allow groups or individuals denied permission to organise political meetings or demonstrations to appeal the ban before a magistrate, while the police are also required to provide reasons for banning meetings.
But human rights and pro-democracy activists have criticised the amendments as piecemeal and inadequate.