Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe says the murder charge against Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) President Obert Masaraure is a clear case of political persecution by the state in an effort to silence the human rights defender.
Masaraure appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court charged with murder as defined in Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
It is the State’s case that on June 1, 2016, Masaraure and his colleagues, whom the state claims are still at large, had a misunderstanding with the late ARTUZ member, Roy Issa after which they assaulted him on the head with “unknown weapons” along Park Street in Harare.
After the death of Issa in 2016, an inquest was done and the Magistrates Court ruled out foul play to which the then Police Spokesperson, Charity Charamba also confirmed the findings of the Court.
CCZ claims that it is shocking that the police would arrest Masaraure over the same case six years down the line.
“The arrest of Masaraure is a calculated attempt by the state to silence all critics of ZANU PF’s misrule and misgovernance and equally a deliberate ploy to persecute human rights activists and civil society activists ahead of the 2023 elections.
“We take note of the continued weaponization of the law and abuse of the criminal justice system by the ruling ZANU PF party using the police and the courts,” the pressure group said in a statement.
CCZ alleged that the state has been making spirited moves to bribe witnesses in a bid to come up with incriminating evidence against Masaraure.
“Masaraure has been outspoken against human rights violations in Zimbabwe and as has become the norm, the state has resorted to terror and weaponization of the law in a bid to punish and silence him.
“We implore the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to conduct themselves in a professional manner and desist from pursuing partisan political interests,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, yesterday said she is following closely Masaraure’s arrest.
“I’m hearing disturbing reports Obert Masaraure has been arrested in Zimbabwe and has reportedly been handed down further charges. I met Obert only three weeks ago in Dublin to present an award in recognition of ARTUZ human rights work. I am following this very closely,” she posted on her Twitter page.
Yesterday the state opposed bail on the grounds that Masaraure was a flight risk as he is facing a “serious offence” and is also likely to influence his other colleagues who are still at large to flee, he was remanded to June 20, 2022.