HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo has joined the growing list of people publicly condemning police brutality against peaceful protesters that has left several people injured as demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s alleged misrule gather momentum.
Source: Moyo slams police brutality – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 19, 2016
BY Everson Mushava/Richard Chidza/Xolisani Ncube/Linda Chinobva
Moyo yesterday took to micro blogging site, Twitter, to express his concern over police actions, saying such conduct risked tarnishing the image of both the force and the country.
“Law enforcement is essential, more so in these times of provocative antics, but it must be lawful. Remember 2007,” he tweeted yesterday.
Below the statement was a picture of a visibly swollen and badly bruised MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, after he was battered by the police in March 2007 and that of a man drenched in blood after being assaulted by cops on Wednesday while protesting.
“Pictures of unlawful violence can change everything for the worse as did this on March 11, 2007 Tsvangirai picture.”
Tsvangirai’s battering in 2007 generated an international outcry, forcing Sadc to act on the crisis in the country.
When asked to clarify his tweets, Moyo told NewsDay: “ . . . at issue is a specific and isolated incident involving unlawful violence that deserves to be wholly condemned as a specific incident without any reservation whatsoever since it violates constitutional rights and risks tarnishing the image
of both the police and the country.”
Police have been using indiscriminate force to deal with protesters since a campaign against Mugabe’s leadership was launched by #ThisFlag leader Evan Mawarire, Tajamuka, Stern Zvorwadza’s National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe and other civic groups.
Gory pictures and videos of police brutality have gone viral, with some international organisations condemning police actions and urging Mugabe’s government to respect the rights of people to gather and protest.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, soon after the first wave of protests triggered by the infamous Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, warned protesters that the police would be heavy-handed when dealing with them, a statement that seemed to have fuelled the widespread brutality.
Journalists have also not been spared by the police’s unlawful actions, with several scribes battered and ordered to delete pictures, while others lost their video cameras in the ensuing melee.
Information minister Christopher Mushohwe this week defended police action, saying they will be defending themselves from attack by the “violent” protesters.
He also justified police action against journalists, blaming the scribes for being on the side of protesters when they were covering the demonstrations.
Yesterday, over 40 riot police officers broke up an anti-police brutality protest at Harare Central Police Station, with Zvorwadza being brutally attacked for the second consecutive day.
Zvorwadza, who was leading close to 20 protesters, was rushed to a private hospital for treatment.
“It’s unfortunate that we were giving out flowers as a sign of love and peace. Police came in full force and assaulted defenceless people,” he said.
“We are against violence, but the police are provoking us. But let this be known to them: Next time we are going to retaliate. We are a peace-loving people, who are only registering our anger against our government due to its poor policies. It’s very painful that a black police officer, unpaid for that matter, turns against his fellow black brother and assaults him indiscriminately.”
Mushohwe, the government spokesperson, yesterday declined to comment on the latest police brutality, referring all questions to Chombo, who was reportedly out of the country.
“Please talk to Minister Chombo and ask him whether what is happening in the country is government policy or not. After that, talk to [Police Commissioner-General Augustine] Chihuri and ask him the same. If they give you their responses, come to me and I will ask them to help you with more information,” he said. “Don’t ask me about what other ministers are writing or saying. They are free to say out their views, but when you come to me I will be giving you our government position.”
In Bulawayo, pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) held a demonstration urging citizens to stop paying school fees and levies to force government to provide free education.
In a statement, the protesters said the imposition of school fees denied many underprivileged children their right to education.
“A policy should be formulated to abolish school fees so that no child is denied access as a result of lack of ability to pay, and in order to effectively abolish school fees and levies, there has to be strong political leadership and development of policy for successful implementation,” read part of the Woza statement.
“Government is not serious about its obligation to provide free primary education, but instead of suing government, we are boycotting paying fees and levies with immediate effect.”
The protesters also called for construction of additional educational facilities to avoid hot-sitting and overcrowding at schools.