‘Soldiers must respect human rights’ 

Source: ‘Soldiers must respect human rights’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BY VANESSA GUZHA

THE National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe (NTJWG) has called on government to ensure that soldiers do not perpetuate human rights violations in the country, adding that those found on the wrong side of the law should be brought to book.

In a statement yesterday, NTJWG said section 212 of the Constitution was very clear on the legal provisions pertaining to the functions of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, which includes protecting citizens, national security and the country’s territorial integrity.

The transitional justice lobby group said it was concerned over claims by the acting Zanu PF national commissar Patrick Chinamasa last month that the bond between the ruling Zanu PF party and the military was historical and thus unbreakable.

“Recent statements by Zanu PF acting political commissar Patrick Chinamasa that his party was not yet ready to surrender its bond with the military is cause for concern.

“The military played a significant role in the violent 2008 harmonised elections and was equally key in the 2017 coup which removed the late former President Robert Mugabe.”

The military has for years been accused of propping up Zanu PF by unleashing an orgy of violence on opposition supporters. In 2008, the military played a role in the killing of opposition supporters when Mugabe wanted to overturn late MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s first round poll victory. Over 300 were left dead and thousands displaced.

In August 2018, the military was implicated in the killing of six civilians in a bid to quell post-electoral violence.

The military was implicated again in the shooting of 17 people in the January 2019 fuel riots. Recommendations by a commission led by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to have the killer soldiers arrested have not been implemented.

“Examples of this can be traced to as far back as the Gukurahundi massacres, and as recently as the August 1, 2018 shootings (electoral violence), and the January 2019 crackdown (fuel protests),” NTJWG said.

NTJWG said a report titled Transition Politics in the Post-Mugabe Era produced by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute in 2020, pointed out that militarisation of the State had worsened during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reign.

“Evidence of this lies in the numerous appointments of military personnel to key government offices and exerting control over medical professionals who have been pressing for reform,” it said.

 

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