No unlawful arrests or detentions in August 2005, but residues from Operation Murambatsvina

Political violence seemed to be on the decline in August but is expected to rise as the nation gears up for the Gutu North by-election and Senate elections, which are scheduled for 26 November 2005. It is noteworthy that there were no unlawful arrests or detentions recorded in the month.

In what seems to be the residue of the infamous Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Restore Order), police in Mutare rounded up over 50 street vendors and confiscated their goods. In another Murambatsvina residual action, residents at Macdonald (Dhonoro) farm in Hatfield constituency were reportedly evicted from the farm to make way for the former owner. The Forum deplores such actions as they infringe on the economic and social rights of individuals. These victims would have lost their income, livelihood and shelter all of which the Government is obligated to protect under international instruments.

The NCA continued to put pressure on the Government to consider a new constitution. This was in the wake of Parliament discussing the Constitutional Amendment Bill (number 17), which was then passed on 30 August 2005 to legislate the establishment of a Senate, vest agricultural land in the state and deny the constitutional right of aggrieved parties in land disputes to appeal through the Courts and restrict travel on individuals deemed to be acting against the economic interests of the country or campaigning for sanctions abroad. This Amendment is the subject of much contention among civil society and the general public at large. The Human Rights Forum joins with the rest of civil society in castigating this repressive Amendment to the Constitution.

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