Zimbabwe: Police raid office of election observers; staff in hiding

Amnesty International has just received information that at about 10 am (local time), five police officers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided the offices of the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) in Harare.

“The actions taken by the police today are unacceptable,” said Amnesty International. “The Zimbabwean police must stop harassing political and human rights activists immediately and act to protect victims of post-election violence.”

The police had a search warrant signed by the officer in charge of CID Homicide authorizing them to search for “subversive material likely to cause the overthrow of a constitutionally-elected government”. 

They are in the process of searching ZESN offices.

The police are now looking for Ms Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, National Director of the ZESN, and Mr Noel Kututwa, the organization’s chairperson.

Police are believed to have taken Tsungai Kokerai, the ZESN’s Programme Manager “to assist with investigations”.  They have also removed some files.

This morning police also raided the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe’s main opposition party. An estimated 375 people were reportedly arrested. Among them are people who had taken refugee at the MDC’s offices after having fled the on-going violence being perpetrated by ZANU-PF supporters and soldiers.

ZESN is a coalition of 38 organisations that was involved in observing the 29 March elections.  ZESN deployed local observers during the elections.