SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 14, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment


Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Zimbabwe

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 14, 2020, police arrested nine students affiliated with the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) during a nonviolent demonstration at the Harare Magistrates Court.

Nine students were peacefully protesting outside Harare Magistrates Court to show support for the jailed ZINASU leader, Takudzwa Ngadziore. That day, Ngadziore was appearing before the court for charges related to his alleged participation in an unsanctioned protest. Anti-riot police arrested nine of the students and brought them to Harare Central Police Station.

The arrested students included Nancy Njenge, Donald Marevanhema, Talent Jinga, Arnold Mazonde, Mitchell Lieto, Zvikomborero Mumbirimi, Takudzwa Gwaze and John Ncobo. The students were charged with participating in a gathering likely to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Act.

The following day, all students were released on bail, and were told to refrain from participating in any protests and appear before court on October 30.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of students for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected under 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 expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, arrests intended to restrict nonviolent student expression activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.