POLICE on Monday arrested four top NGO leaders who the State has linked to a regime change plot with foreign support.
According to an alert by pro-democracy NGO, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, police arrested Citizens Manifesto Coordinator Tatenda Mombeyarara, Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe Advocacy Officer George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo of Transparency International Zimbabwe and Executive Director of COTRAD Gamuchirai Mukura at the Robert Mugabe International Airport.
Said Crisis, “Their arrest follows a false story generated by the The Herald-Zimbabwe and the Chronicle that they are part of a group that went for a regime change training in Prague. “
According to the cited State media reports, a “group of shady organisations from Zimbabwe with links to the opposition MDC-Alliance has in recent months been hard at work laying groundwork for civil unrest set to be unleashed next month”.
This, according to State media, is being coordinated by foreign organisations through workshops and training in Zimbabwe, the region and overseas “to effect regime change in the country”.
Crisis said the arrests on rights activists was part of a broader strategy by the under fire Zanu PF led administration to criminalise the work of local civic groups.
“The police, government officials and state media have been colluding to criminalise the work of human rights defenders laying unfounded allegations against civil society leaders as agents of regime change who want to topple the government.
“The continued harassment of civil society leaders has seen a worsening of Zimbabwe’s human rights record.”
Several civil society activists have gone into hiding in recent months after the State has linked them to acts of subverting a constitutional government through organising anti-government protests.
Activists deny the charges but insist citizens have a right within the confines of the country’s constitution to express themselves in non-violent ways.
The new Emmerson Mnangagwa led government has been accused of failing to lead the country out of its bitter past under former leader Robert Mugabe.