HUMAN and civil rights watchdog Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) has expressed concern at the escalating cases of political violence in the country, a development it says signifies that the elections will not be free and fair, as enunciated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
BY SILAS NKALA
HZT’s remarks follow reports that suspected Zanu PF thugs attacked National People’s Party leader, Joice Mujuru and her party officials last week in Glen View and Glen Norah high-density suburbs, Harare, leaving some of them nursing wounds.
The rights watchdog said it condemns in the strongest terms the attack of former Vice-President Mujuru and her supporters who were campaigning in the two suburbs.
“Heal Zimbabwe perceive such acts of intolerance as barbaric and uncalled for as the nation approaches the 2018 elections,” HZT said in a statement.
“The incident comes at a time when Heal Zimbabwe had recorded numerous acts of violence across the country. Recently, in Zaka East ward 31, four Zanu PF youths allegedly assaulted Amos Kumire, an MDC-T member, whom they accused of supporting the MDC-T party.”
The organisation said, on January 2, deadly clashes erupted near the MDC-T party headquarters in Harare between MDC-T youth and cellphone traders from Ximex complex.
Heal Zimbabwe said on January 2 again, a case of arson and assault was recorded in Epworth, while violent clashes erupted between two Zanu PF rival groups, leading to the injury of two minor children.
“Heal Zimbabwe notes that the attack on the NPP party is an indication of intolerance that is prevailing in the country, which, if not addressed, will compromise the prospects of peace and negatively influence free participation of people in electoral processes,” HZT said.
“Heal Zimbabwe calls upon principals and political parties to respect and enforce the electoral code of conduct for political parties and candidates and guarantee free participation of the electorate in the upcoming election. Political parties should be at the forefront of creating a conducive environment for the electorate to freely participate in the plebiscite without fear of future reprisals.”
The human rights organisation appealed to the police to investigate and arrest all perpetrators of violence.
“The organisation further calls upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to put in place mechanisms that ensure elections are held in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful manner,” HZT said.
“The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which is mandated by the Constitution to set up an early warning and early response system responsible for early detection of potential violent conflicts and disputes, must swiftly set up the important system in collaboration with churches and civil society in order to minimise incidents of violence as the nation approaches the election.”