Crisis Demands Release of Convicted Activists
Law lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai, anti-debt campaigner Hopewell Gumbo, Zimbabwe Labour Centre director Antoneta Choto, student leader Welcome Zimuto and social activists Eddson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara await their sentence to be delivered today (Wednesday).
They had been convicted by Harare Regional Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on the charge of conspiracy to commit public violence in contravention of section 188 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The six were among 45 people arrested on the February 19 last year during a meeting where a video on the uprisings in Egypt was shown. The court ruled that the way in which the six watched the video of Egypt uprisings shows that they intended to engage in similar uprisings in Zimbabwe.
“Crisis is shocked and outraged at the conviction of six activists by Harare Regional Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini on the charge of conspiracy to commit public violence in contravention of section 188 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“The conviction of the six is a serious indictment of Zimbabwe’s judiciary. Over 200 MDC supporters were killed during the 2008 elections with little action from the police, and yet, on political grounds, six individuals are found guilty of conspiracy to commit public violence by watching a video,” it said.
“We call upon local and international civil society groups and activists to stand in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Six and demand their immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution must stop now. We demand a full restoration of the rule of law under the stewardship of an independent, professional and non-partisan judiciary.”
Observers have pointed out that the conviction of the six is meant to silence dissenting voices ahead of possible elections this year. Zanu PF has already said that elections are on this year with or without the new constitution. The constitution is one of the reforms demanded by Sadc to be in place before the holding of free and fair elections.