Zimbabwe activist Makomborero Haruzivishe jailed for 14 months
Zimbabwe pro-democracy activist Makomborero Haruzivishe has been sentenced to 14 months in jail, a week after being convicted for inciting public violence and resisting arrest.
The 28-year-old, an outspoken critic of Zimbabwe's government, was jailed for 24 months on the first count of incitement, and 12 months for resisting arrest. Ten of the 24 months and six of the 12 months were suspended. With the two sentences to run concurrently, Haruzivishe will serve 14 months in prison.
A Harare Central police station charge sheet, which TimesLIVE has obtained, reads: “The accused mobilised members of the public by whistling a whistle code trying to canvas them to revolt against the police officers and he went on to throw some stones towards the police officers and their vehicles.”
Human rights lawyer Douglas Coltart told TimesLIVE that government was arresting and detaining activists as a way to clamp down on freedom of expression.
“I strongly disagree with both the conviction and sentence of Makomborero. This is a case on which the charge rested on an allegation that Makomborero whistled, and it was supposedly by his mere whistle that he incited vendors to engage in public violence. The conviction itself is extremely shaky and will be challenged through the appeal process.
“It is shocking from a legal point of view, but from a political point of view it’s not shocking. This is really the direction that the regime appears to be taking — the weaponisation of the criminal law and weaponisation of the detention of political activists, human rights activists and anyone who criticises the regime.
“Clearly this is the weapon of choice that the regime is using to clamp down on freedom of expression and any form of resistance to their misgovernance,” said Coltart.
Zimbabwe has seen a rise in arrests and detention of activists. Among them is Harare West MP Joana Mamombe and opposition activist Cecilia Chimbiri, who were arrested and charged with contravening the national Covid-19 regulations.