Individual Freedoms & State Security in the African Context: The Case of Zimbabwe

By John Hatchard | Go to book overview
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10 Freedom of Movement
& of Conscience

Freedom of Movement

Restrictions on the freedom of movement are felt more than the infringement of many other freedoms because they affect almost everyone. The right to move freely throughout Zimbabwe, the right to reside in any part of Zimbabwe, the right to enter and to leave Zimbabwe, and immunity from expulsion are all constitutionally protected. 1 They are subject to restrictions including those required in the interests of defence, public safety and public order although no law may permit citizens of Zimbabwe from leaving or being excluded or expelled from the country. 2 In practice, security laws affected both the right to move within Zimbabwe and the right to leave and re-enter the country.


Right of Movement within Zimbabwe

Emergency regulations worldwide frequently impose restrictions on internal movement. Such limitations were a feature of the UDI period in Rhodesia. A senior police officer had complete discretion to control the movement of persons into and out of a particular area, whilst the Minister of Internal Affairs could direct the police to move 'the public or any section of the public out of or to any particular portion [of an area] in the interests of public safety or public order'. He could also direct the imposition of a curfew. These powers were used to create 'protected villages' which were designed to prevent the rural peasant population assisting the guerillas. In July 1974 the first protected village was established with nearly 50,000 rural inhabitants being forcibly moved into 21 villages. By 1978 the numbers in the villages had grown to about 750,000. 3 The imposition of curfews also became widespread in many rural areas. Although ostensibly carrying a penalty of up to two years imprisonment, in practice many civilians were shot for breaching an order. Perhaps the following notice epitomises the situation:

As from dawn on January 201978 the following restrictions will be imposed upon all of you...
1. Human curfew from last light to 12 o'clock daily.
2. Cattle, yolked oxen, goats and sheep curfew from last light to 12 o'clock daily.
3. No vehicles, including bicycles or buses, to run in the area.
4. No person will either go on or near any high ground or they will be shot.
5. All dogs to be tied up 24 hours each day or they will be shot.
6. Cattle, sheep and goats, after 12 o'clock are only to be herded by adults.
7. No juveniles (to the age of 16 years) will be allowed out of the kraal area at any time either day or night, or they will be shot.

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