Journalist’s ordeal in Zimbabwe

The World
The World

BM says the arrest of opposition supporters in the past month is a terrible omen: everyone in Zimbabwe is worried about the police action because it’s becoming a police state. These people are not being charged. Everyone is worried and clearly it is an attempt to intimidate people into voting in a certain way. (Is the crackdown working?) It’s difficult to say how this is affecting people but they have since set up their own protection forces which means the violence could escalate. The rural population is not giving in as easy as it has before. (Why have you chosen to put your neck on the line for journalists, especially ones from countries outside Zimbabwe?) If someone gets arrested and needs a lawyer, it’s my duty to defend them. We need a free media for a good democracy.

BB says BM told them in frank terms what their rights were: she told us ultimately there is no law in Zimbabwe and the police will keep you as long as they want. What happened here is Mugabe thinks it’s important to have a veneer of democracy, so the courts and civil groups are allowed to operate as long as they don’t shake things up too much, elections can be held as long as the opposition stays down. So we were in that situation where we were in court and there was a magistrate who listened to the law and we were released because we had broken no law. (Describe the cell.) There were about 150 people locked up while we were there, the cells are very bare. Each wall has a tier of three cement slabs which you could lay on. But there’s nothing, no blankets of mattresses, there’s no water but there is some pit that functions as a toilet. (How long had the inmates been there?) Most had been there for less than a week. Most of them had no attorney and nothing is provided to you.

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