On September 10, 2020, police arrested the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) during a student-led protest at a car rental office over the alleged abduction of a journalist.
In March 2020, police reportedly arrested ZINASU president Takudzwa Ngadziore in retaliation for his role in organizing a protest calling for the release of his peer and former ZINASU secretary general Makomborero Haruzivishe. Ngadziore was released on bail in June 2020.
On September 8, Ngadziore organized a student demonstration at the Impala Car Rental offices in Harare to demand that the company respond to allegations that its vehicles were used by state security agents to abduct citizens, including journalist Tawanda Muchehiwa. Muchehiwa was reportedly held in an undisclosed location for three days and subjected to torture before being brought back to his house.
On September 10, as Ngadziore left a court after the start of his trial for the March 2020 arrest, police arrested him for “participating in a public gathering with intent to promote public violence, breach of peace, or bigotry,” in connection with the September 8 protest and brought him to Harare Central Police Station. On September 14, Ngadziore was released on the condition that he stay at least 100 meters away from the Impala Car Rental’s offices.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a student in response to the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the exercise of these rights, so long as they are peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of detentions in response to peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).