Human rights defenders charged with plotting to overthrow Mnangagwa’s govt as authorities target more citizens

By Court Reporter

FIVE human rights campaigners, who were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic
Police (ZRP) this week, were on Tuesday 21 May 2019 charged with
plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

First to be arrested on Monday 20 May 2019 upon disembarking from a
South African Airways aircraft at Robert Mugabe International Airport,
were four human rights campaigners namely George Makoni aged 38 years,
Tatenda Mombeyarara aged 37 years, Gamuchirai Mukura aged 31 years,
Nyasha Mpahlo aged 35 years while Farirai Gumbonzvanda aged 26 years,
was arrested on Tuesday 21 May at Robert Mugabe International Airport.

The five were charged with subverting constitutional government as
defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Act.

According to ZRP officers, Makoni, an Advocacy Officer with Centre for
Community Development in Zimbabwe, Mombeyerara of International
Socialist Organisation, Mukura of Community Tolerance Reconciliation
and Development, Mpahlo of Green Governance Zimbabwe and
Gumbonzvanda, a volunteer at Rosaria Memorial Trust, allegedly
connived with their accomplices, who are still at large and travelled
to Maldives on 13 May 2019, where they attended a training workshop
organised by Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies
(CANVAS), a Serbian non-governmental organisation, with the intention
of subvert a constitutionally elected government.

ZRP officers claimed that during the training workshop, the five human
rights campaigners, who are represented by Godfrey Mupanga, Jeremiah
Bamu and Jessie Majome of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, were
trained on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and
to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law
during some anticipated national protests organised by some
anti-government movements.
The law enforcements agents charged that Makoni, Mombeyarara, Mukura,
Mpahlo and Gumbonzvanda were also trained on how to operate small arms
and to evade arrest during civil unrest and on counter-intelligence
and acts of terrorism.

The ZRP officers confiscated the human rights activists’ laptops and
mobile phone handsets, which they reportedly handed over to the Postal
and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe “for extraction of evidence”,
which will be produced in court as evidence against them including
some notes recorded during the meeting.