Panafrican News Agency

Two remaining incarcerated civil society leaders freed in Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - Women’s rights activist, Stabile Dewa, and director of the Female Prisoners Support Trust, Dr. Rita Nyampinga, the two remaining incarcerated civil society leaders were freed on Monday on a RTGS$1 000 (US$168.63) bail.

Both Dewa and Nyampinga were the last of the seven civil leaders held on subversion charges for wanting to topple Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.

The other five civic leaders, George Makoni, 38, an advocacy officer for the Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe; Tatenda Mombeyarara, 37, co-ordinator of lobby group Citizens Manifesto; Gamuchirai Mukura, 31, executive director of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD); and Nyasha Mpahlo, 35, governance officer at Transparency International Zimbabwe; and Farirai Gumbonzvanda, a volunteer at Rosaria Memorial Trust were all freed on  Friday.

High Court Judge Justice Amy Tsanga presided over the release of Dewa and Nyampinga but with some stringent reporting conditions.

“Justice Tsanga ordered Nyampinga and Dewa to report everyday at ZRP police stations including continuing to reside at their given residential addresses until the case is finalised and not to interfere with witnesses and police investigations,” Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers (ZHLR) said.

“The two CSO leaders Beauty Rita Nyampinga, aged 61 years, and Stabile Dewa, aged 34 years, had been detained at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and at Parirenyatwa Hospital after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on 28 May 2019 upon arrival at Robert Mugabe International Airport and charged with subverting constitutional government as defined in section 22(2)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.”

ZHRL said Nyampinga and Dewa had also been charged with inciting public violence as defined in section 187(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36(1)(a) of the of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

While the State had initially opposed the admission of Nyampinga and Dewa on bail, it later made an about-turn and advised Justice Tsanga that it was no longer challenging the placement of the duo on bail.

This was “considering that the CSO leader’s co-accused persons namely George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura and Frank Nyasha Mpahlo, had been granted bail on 7 June 2019 and hence there was no basis for opposing bail,” ZHLR said.

Justice Tsanga indicated that the CSO leaders can apply at the High Court after 21 June 2019 for consideration of the variation of their stringent reporting conditions.

All seven activists had attended a workshop on how to hold peaceful and legal demonstrations organised by the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) from 15-19 May in the Maldives.

However, state media alleged that the CANVAS workshop was really a front to hold regime change activities in Zimbabwe to topple Mnangagwa and his government.

CANVAS has since released a statement calling the charges “blatantly false”, adding that the workshop was “with a focus on peace-building and nonviolence”.

Western countries have been vocal in their condemnation over the arrests of the civil society leaders in recent weeks.

-0- PANA TZ/AR 10June2019