By Byron Mutingwende
Worker representatives, political activists and the generality of Zimbabweans have roundly condemned police brutality that led to the shooting of civilians as the Harare City Council was effecting a ban of kombis in the capital’s central business district (CBD).
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) condemned the police brutality witnessed yesterday when police shot dead innocent civilians and injured others in Harare CBD.
There are conflicting reports of how many were killed and injured. The shootings which occurred after the police had a misunderstanding with a commuter omnibus crew turned fatal when police opened fire and in the process shot passers, sparking riots by the public demanding justice and accountability from the police.
“No lives should be lost in the hands of the police under whatever circumstances and we urge the police to adopt humane and civilised policing strategies when dealing with the public. The duty of the police is to enforce the law in a civilised manner that protects life and human dignity. The use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians is the worst form of policing that should not be tolerated. Such bad policing instigates violence as the public is forced take the law into their own hands seeking justice denied, when the protecting authority turns cannibal,” ZCTU said.
They urged the responsible authorities to swiftly institute investigations into the shootings and ensure that the responsible police officer (s) is brought to book and insisted on the fact that the police must also make a public apology for the unfortunate act.
“We are calling upon the state and police authorities to desist from archaic governance and policing. At the same time the ZCTU urges citizens to demand their rights and good governance from authorities.”
Linda Masarira, the aspiring Member of the House of Assembly for Harare Central blamed ZBC for taking the people of Zimbabwe for granted. On Tuesday ZTV reported that the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and local government officials were inspecting the new kombi sites.
A delegation apperared on TV but Chideme was the only council official on site who actually announced the operation. The Mayor and Town Clerk were not interviewed.
“We could smell a rat on the whole operation. Now that everything has gone wrong, the blame now lies with Council. July Moyo you are turning into another Chombo or Kasukuwere. This clearly shows that ZANU (PF) will never change. ZBC should know that we no longer need their propaganda. We now have more reliable sources and everyone knows that ZBC is just a ZANU (PF) mouth piece,” fumed Masarira.
She bemoaned the fact that ZRP used to take bribes from people but in frustration they were taking people’s lives.
“The law enforcement agents who are supposed to be the custodians of the Supreme law of the land have violated the sacrosanct right to life by intentionally opening fire on unsuspecting commuters in Harare. Those who have done this dastard act should be brought to book if the rule of law still exists in Zimbabwe. The government of day must also compensate the families of those who have been slain by the frustrated and now trigger happy.”
The move to decongest the CBD is noble though the way it was done was haphazard and showed lack of planning, strategy and engagement with all stakeholders. City council needs to build new termini at the new designated places and ensure that shuttle services are available to the commuting citizens of Zimbabwe.
Masarira said it was unfortunate the move came when there is a deep liquidity crunch and cash crisis with most families surviving on less than 35 c per day. It is not sustainable for one to use a dollar on one way transport. The issue is crosscutting on various aspects of social justice and is a violation of human rights. Proper frameworks should be in place before implementing such moves.
Meanwhile, the ZRP has said it regrets the death of two people and the injury of four in Harare Central Business District.
Addressing journalists, ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga expressed his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and promised to investigate the matter conclusively.
“From the onset, let me categorically state that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is currently seized with the matter and I have since directed a team of expert investigators to extensively establish the cause, what transpired, who was responsible and action will be taken,” he said.