Heal Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the unlawful arrest and continued detention of Darlington Madzonga, a seasoned human rights defender and civic leader. Madzonga was arrested on 12 July 2017 during a peaceful protest by MDC-T youth against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s failure to implement electoral reforms. Madzonga was arrested together with Edmund Musvubi and the two are being charged with murdering a police officer and malicious damage to property. They are currently detained at Harare Remand Prison. The continued persecution of human rights defenders is worrying as it curtails citizen’s fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The arrest of Madzonga come against a background where the State has launched a series of targeted arrests on human rights defenders. From January 2017 to date, the courts have been inundated with cases where several human rights defenders have been charged with “public nuisance”, inciting violence among other charges. Human rights defenders such as Promise Mkwananzi, Pride Mkono, Makomborero Haruzivishe and Patson Dzamara have all frequented the courts facing various charges.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that the arrest of Madzonga present the height of the State’s relentless target of human rights defenders that is meant to silence and cower citizens from exercising their fundamental human rights that are enshrined in the constitution. This creates a citizenry who is not active in exercising their fundamental human rights and freedoms. The organisation therefore calls for the unconditional release of Darlington Mudzonga and other human rights defenders.