Madhuku condemns Bikita violence

Source: Madhuku condemns Bikita violence – DailyNews Live 20 January 2017

Mugove Tafirenyika and Bridget Mananavire

HARARE – National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader, Lovemore Madhuku,
has condemned the gruesome violence that erupted in Bikita West on Tuesday
ahead of the constituency’s by-election and slammed the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (Zec) of not taking action over the matter.

The opposition party’s candidate Madock Chivasa and his chief election
agent, Thomas Mudzamiri, were bashed by suspected Zanu PF yobs on Tuesday
night and had to be hospitalised.

Madhuku expressed shock at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s
failure to act against Zanu PF after it allegedly perpetrated the gruesome
violence and called on Bikita electorate “not to reward perpetrators of

“It is shocking to realise that as all this madness happens, Zec has not
said or done anything when the nation is expecting to hear from them if
they take their work seriously,” he said, adding that the electoral body
risks losing credibility.

Chivasa said they reported the attack to Maxwell Mashavave, the
constituency elections officer.

But Richard Ngurunga, Zec’s deputy public relations director, yesterday
claimed they were not aware of the attack, which has been reported in all
independent newspapers, and referred questions to the electoral body’s
chief elections officer or its boss, Rita Makarau.

Madhuku also condemned Zanu PF’s resort to violence each time the party
feels its hegemony is under serious challenge.

Bikita West is a political hotbed where ugly violence erupted in 2001
ahead of a by-election.

“We cannot say anything other than condemn those who are resorting to
violence and we only hope our plea will convert them because it does not
help our democracy,” Madhuku said.

“We also call upon the electorate to remain steadfast and not to be
intimidated into giving up. We must never reward perpetrators of violence
by doing that,” he said.

The University of Zimbabwe law lecturer however, gave thumps up to law
enforcement agents for being “positive” in their approach.

Zec – which has said about 18 800 people have registered for the
by-election – has previously called for peace in Bikita West.

Recent amendments to the Electoral Act allow Zec to warn election
candidates, election agents or parties implicated in acts of political
violence and to set up special courts to try such cases.

Election observer groups called for investigations and prosecutions of
perpetrators before the violence sets a bad precedent for the 2018 general

” . . . we call all political parties and their supporters campaigning in
Bikita West to strongly condemn any form of violence and desist from
assaulting and harassing people.

“We urge the police and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to
investigate these incidents and bring all perpetrators to book,” Rindai
Chipfunde-Vava, Zesn director, said in a statement.

This comes as 57 human rights violations have so far been recorded in the
constituency since November 1 by Heal Zimbabwe Trust.

“These include assault, vote buying, partisan distribution of aid, forced
attendance to rallies, destruction of campaign material, hate speech,
disruption of rallies, and threats issued to voters/candidates,” Heal
Zimbabwe executive director, Rashid Mahiya, said.

“An upsurge in cases of human rights violations also  compromise the
electoral playing field and casts doubt and uncertainty over the holding
of free, fair and peaceful elections in Zimbabwe,” Mahiya said.

Jestina Mukoko’s Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) also condemned and raised
concern over the abuse of the electorate’s rights.

“The constituency has reported threat to life, physical violence, partisan
food distribution, vote buying, and deployment of soldiers, unwarranted
voter assistance and intimidation by traditional leaders,” ZPP said in a

“The utterances by Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa that the
electorate of Bikita West has to vote wisely, all point to the rapid
increase in hate speech, which is a trigger for physical violence,” it

“Villagers from Mushanduri in ward 9 have reported to ZPP that they
continue to experience intimidation as traditional leaders threaten to
evict known opposition party supporters if Zanu PF loses the upcoming
by-election slated for 21 January.”