BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA/PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
THE British House of Lords on Wednesday called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to condemn violence and hate speech ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
This came after an opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporter was killed on February 27 at a rally in Kwekwe, while 17 others were injured by alleged Zanu PF activists.
A motion presented by British Lord Jonathan Oates in the House of Lords said the United Kingdom government should made an assessment of the political situation in Zimbabwe, particularly the ability of political parties to campaign freely in the forthcoming elections.
Oates urged the government to ensure that there are free and fair elections by condemning political violence in the run up to the elections.
“The UK remains concerned by the political situation in Zimbabwe, which includes efforts to frustrate political opposition’s right to free assembly and incidents of violence at political rallies over recent weeks,” Oates said.
“We regularly urge the Zimbabwean government to live up to its Constitution by ensuring that the opposition is allowed to operate without harassment and to ensure accountability for perpetrators of violence.”
“We are concerned about the recent incidents of violence targeting CCC rallies. Our ambassador in Harare tweeted to call on the government to ensure that perpetrators of violence are brought to justice and that all parties can campaign freely without fear of violence.”
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said when she met Mnangagwa in November last year, she emphasised the issue of political violence.
“Inciting political violence has no place in any country, including Zimbabwe. We urge the government of Zimbabwe to live up to its Constitution in ensuring that all political parties are allowed to operate and campaign without harassment — as our ambassador publicly stated after the death of a CCC supporter at the rally on February 27. We urge the police to fully investigate any acts of political violence and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said: “Zimbabweans cannot be used by the hoary British Lord to question their President. He is just some little British lord who is trying to play arbiter to Zimbabwean politics and that makes it incongruous.
“President Mnangagwa is known for preaching peace and it is the opposition that has filled the internet space with their messages of violence.”
He said the British should stop CCC from fanning violence.
“We have not heard any hoary British lord open their filthy mouth to chastise their tool here although the internet is full of Nelson Chamisa (CCC leader) and his followers pronouncing themselves as agents of violence. He has instigated Chamisa and his party to pursue politics of violent utility,” Charamba said, adding that in any event, Lord Oates did not run Zimbabwe’s presidency.
CCC deputy spokesperson Gift Ostallos Siziba said: “If you look at the history of violence in Zimbabwe, you must see that the writing is on the wall. How can Zanu PF being the perpetrator cry louder like that? Zimbabweans are petrified, citizens are living in fear.”
Meanwhile, Zanu PF youths criticised Oates’ comments during a 4-H Zimbabwe peace, leadership, conflict resolution and development training programme in Harare, saying the House of Lords was working with CCC to overthrow the ruling
Zanu PF director for information Tafadzwa Mugwadi said: “Lord Oates does not know anything about Zimbabwe. What he said in the UK Parliament was from minutes sent to him by CCC.
The MP is in a regime change relationship with the CCC,” Mugwadi said.