Human rights commission condemns political violence ahead of by-elections

March 2, 2022

Tinevimbo Chibagidi

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has condemned cases of recently reported political violence.

The statutory commission urged political parties and other relevant players to shun violence.

A member of the newly formed Citizens Coalition Change (CCC) was murdered in Kwekwe while 17 other party supporters were injured and hospitalised after an attack on thousands of people who had gathered for a rally ahead of the March 26 by-elections.

The CCC is headed by Nelson Chamisa, a former leader of the MDC Alliance that changed its name after a rival faction, the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora, claimed ownership of the name.

In a statement the police alleged that Zanu PF activists committed the murder.

The direct reference to a ruling party member as perpetrators of violence came as a surprise given the fact that the law enforcer has in the past masked Zanu PF human rights violations.

The alleged murderers, according to media reports, were discovered at a property owned by the former State Security minister, Owen Ncube, who President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently stood down for political violence and defiance of his instruction not to stand in provincial party elections.

Critics rapped Ncube’s appointment, describing him as a warmonger who failed his O-Level examinations and had used his political connections to make money out of the rampant illegal gold mining sector in the Midlands.

The by-elections were decreed to fill vacancies left by lawmakers and councillors who had either been recalled by MDC-T on the grounds that they had defected to Chamisa, or due to death.

The commission, in statement issued on Tuesday, expressed concern over cases of political violence—mainly pinned on supporters of the ruling Zanu PF—which have been rising since the by-elections were announced.

“As the country prepares for the by-elections to be held on the 26th of March 2022, 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 ZHRC called on political parties to refrain from provocative conduct or the incitement of supporters to commit acts of violence.

“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,” noted the commission.

The commission called on law enforcement agencies to uphold human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all citizens without fear or favour. 

“The commission urges the law enforcement officials to impartially enforce the law without fear or favour so that all political parties freely hold their election campaigns and rallies without unjustified stringent measures or requirements.

“ZHRC further calls on the law enforcement agencies to uphold the human rights and freedoms of all citizens, including freedom of assembly, association, and expression. Citizens are reminded that Article 2 (3) (a) of the ICCPR—International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—(https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx)–guarantees an effective remedy even in instances where human rights violations have been committed by persons acting in an official party.”

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