BY TATENDA CHITAGU/SHARON BUWERIMWE
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has lamented the rising cases of political intolerance and escalating interparty violence ahead of the March 26 by-elections and the 2023 harmonised elections.
This comes after one person died, while 17 others were injured on Sunday in Kwekwe during a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally which was being addressed by party leader Nelson Chamisa.
In a statement yesterday, ZHRC said political violence could not be tolerated in a democratic and free society.
“The ZHRC has noted with great concern the recent reports of violent clashes at rallies and calls upon all political parties and relevant stakeholders to shun all forms of politically-motivated violence. Section 67(2)(b) of the Constitution guarantees the right to campaign freely and peacefully for a political party or cause of own choice and, therefore, the commission strongly condemns all political violence as it is a violation of political rights and freedoms,” the statement read.
“The commission, therefore, unreservedly condemns these incidents of politically-motivated violence and calls on all political parties involved in the electoral process to show restraint and refrain from provocative conduct or incitement of supporters to commit acts of violence. It is common cause that anyone who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any way to the commission of violent crime is complicit in the violence and such persons should be held accountable for their conduct.”
ZHRC said there was need to embrace multi-party politics which is highly-tolerant regardless of divergent political views.
“The commission, particularly condemns the use of inflammatory language by some political actors during campaign rallies, which causes tension among members of various political parties.
“ZHRC calls upon all political leaders to immediately de-escalate tension and re-engage constructively, in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, with a view to agree on the modalities of conducting inclusive, free, fair, transparent, and credible elections.”
The commission urged law enforcement agents to be impartial.
Amnesty International said the attacks on CCC party members were meant to intimidate the opposition.
“The government’s rhetoric has done much to incite such ferocious violence and unfortunately little to ensure the free exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and association.
“The Zimbabwean authorities must immediately end the culture of politically-motivated violence by refraining from issuing inflammatory statements that may incite violence and they must ensure an impartial, independent and transparent investigation into this attack. The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Amnesty International deputy director for southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said.