via No room for political violence in Zim – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 10, 2015
Recent disclosures by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission’s (ZHRC) report that Zanu PF continues to use political violence against its perceived enemies shows that the party is retrogressive.
The ZHRC report, which was produced following running battles in the run-up to the Hurungwe West by-election, indicates how President Robert Mugabe’s party has abdicated its role to protect the interests of the majority for selfish means.
Preventing violence is the responsibility of everyone and the police should engage stakeholders to sensitise political parties on the dangers of violence.
Yet, in the report, ZHRC chronicled electoral violations by Zanu PF’s rank and file against civilians deemed to support independent candidate Temba Mliswa in Hurungwe West by-election and in some cases before police officers.
This was not an isolated incident, but choreographed across the country over a period of time.
We urge Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to investigate the human rights violations.
In terms of Section 243 (1) (h) of the Constitution, ZHRC is empowered to direct the Police Commissioner-General to investigate cases of human rights violations. Zanu PF apparatchiks fingered in the report must also be arrested to discourage like-minded individuals from engaging in political violence.
We believe that opposition political parties and the international world must apply pressure on Mugabe to ensure the culprits are brought before a court of law and for the country to reform electoral laws.
If this is not done, Zimbabwe might witness human rights abuses of greater magnitude given the population is living on the edge as a result of the economic meltdown due to Mugabe and Zanu PF’s destructive policies.
Mugabe is likely to use authoritarian means to suppress dissent as the restive population demands change going into the 2018 watershed elections.
Therefore, Africa should stand by the people of Zimbabwe to ensure that all issues raised in the ZHRC report pertaining to the Hurungwe West by-election and elsewhere are attended to without let or hindrance. Is it not true that the report now vindicates the opposition that has always argued that top Zanu PF officials use violent tactics to coerce people to vote for the party against the opposition?
We believe that until violence is eliminated in the country, there is no way the electoral field in Zimbabwe can be conducive for a free and fair election.
It is ironic that even some top party officials were named as behind the violence. We urge Mugabe to ensure that party youths and all those behind the heinous acts are arrested as a matter of urgency.
It is also high time that police officers are trained to investigate and handle human rights and politically-motivated cases, otherwise ruling party politicians will continue to abuse the officers. The police officers must not act in a partisan manner so as to further the interests of any political party or cause yet, Zanu PF has been abusing the system ordering the arrest of opponents.
The campaign period is no exception with regard to violence. Violence should not be given room and any perpetrators of violence should face the full wrath of the law. The violence that keeps rocking the political campaigns should come to a stop. We condemn violence as we concur with the ZHRC that the people who condone violence have no place in politics and have no role to play in the country’s precious democracy.