GALZ Update

Published: September 7, 2012

BACKGROUND
 
The Zimbabwe Republic Police on Thursday 23 August 2012 charged The Co Chairperson
 of GALZ for running an “unregistered” organisation. Detectives at the Law and Order Section
 at the Harare Central Police Station on Thursday 23 August 2012 charged GALZ that was
 represented by Martha Tholanah, the organisation’s co-chairperson with running an
 “unregistered” organisation in contravention of Section 6 (iii) of the Private Voluntary
 Organisation (PVO) Act. The Police advised the GALZ Co-Chairperson that they would
 proceed by way of summons. To date there has been no communication from the ZRP
 around the issue.

 GALZ also faces an additional charge of “undermining the authority of the President” in
 contravention of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter
 9.23.This charge was initially pressed against two GALZ employees Ellen Chademana and
 Ignatius Mhambi when they were arrested in May 2010 but were never prosecuted. Ms
 Tholanah signed a warned and cautioned statement for this charge and the State also
 indicated that they would proceed by way of summons.
 The charge of contravenining the PVO Act is similar to that of the Director of the Zimbabwe
 Human Rights NGO Forum, Mr. Abel Chikomo. Mr Chikomo had been summoned to The
 State on Wednesday 25 July 2012 withdrew summons issued against Abel Chikomo, to
 stand trial on charges of running an “unregistered” organisation.
 
LEGAL STATUS OF GALZ
 GALZ is recognised under the law as an association or a universitas. In terms of
 Zimbabwean Common Law a universitas is a juristic person or legal persona. GALZ, an
 Association of LGBTI in Zimbabwe, is a voluntary association.
 A voluntary association is a universitas if:
 1. it has the power to acquire property or other rights and to incur liabilities distinct from
 those of its members; and
 2. It has perpetual succession in that it remains in existence despite changing
 membership.
 
The Constitution of GALZ provides in clause 2.1 that it has the power to acquire rights and
 obligations distinct from its members and that it has perpetual succession. Accordingly, in
 terms of the Common Law of Zimbabwe, GALZ is a universitas. As such it has no need to
 register in terms of any legislation or under any statute in order to acquire legal personality
 or for it to constitute a juristic person for the purposes of Zimbabwean law.
 
MOVING FORWARD
 Following the raid eight GALZ staff Computers were seized together with all other
 information and materials. To date this equipment and materials are still in the possession of
 the Police. We are in the process of trying to have the seized equipment and materials
 returned. We are working to repair the damage caused during the raid on our premises.
 There is continued surveillance on the GALZ Resource Centre, making it difficult for GALZ
 staff to resume operations normally. The GALZ office remains closed to minimise the risk of
 arrests. We continue to work with our Membership. Providing support, counselling, advice
 and the much-needed services.
 
Intimidation of GALZ members continues unabated. GALZ Members report of continued
 Police visits to their homes and places of work too. Police are calling and threatening
 members for no apparent reasons. GALZ views this as a disguised attempt to intimidate our
 members and further isolate them from GALZ services.
 
The external environment in which GALZ operates in continues to be more hostile. There
 is increased state sanctioned homophobia churned out through state media channels. There
 is increased focus on the subject of homosexuality and the constitutional process now and at
 least during the run up to the referendum and elections. LGBTI individuals are not the direct
 target but are being used as an instrument to settle political scores.

 Amongst the revisions to the draft COPAC constitution, ZANU PF put forward amendments
 to section 4.36 on Marriage rights and added item (4) Same Sex Marriages are prohibited.
 (5) Homosexuality, gays and lesbian practices are prohibited. This is a worrying
 development and one which needs attention if the events of the last weeks
 The safety and security of the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe remains our top priority
 between now and the culmination of the constitutional and electoral processes in Zimbabwe.

 GALZ is working to ensure that its members are not exposed to continued intimidation
 harassment and violence during this period.

 GALZ remains resolute in its quest to represent and protect the rights and interests of all
 LGBTI citizens despite such unprecedented challenges on its human rights defenders.We
 continue to work towards contributing to a just society that protects the human rights of all
 LGBTI people as equal citizens in Zimbabwe.

 We thank you all for your continued support during this very difficult time for GALZ.
 

Leave a Reply