Upsurge in political violence worrisome: ZimRights

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) ha expressed dismay over the rise in cases of political violence across the country ahead of the 2018 elections.

On Monday, 16 July 2018, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) reported that a leader of an MDC Alliance’s campaign team in Mandara, Harare East, Tarisai Musurudzwa, was attacked by soldiers guarding a house belonging to a Rt. Nyambuya.

“Apparently, while the attack is condemnable on its own, it is noteworthy and curious that a Zanu-PF campaign team, operating in the area was left to conduct its campaign also exposing what could be a partisan bias by the soldiers.

“Unfortunately, the attack which comes after the army spokesperson, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, recently held a press conference where he said the army will not interfere with election campaigns and promised to be ready to deal with members of the force who deviate from the position,” ZimRights said.

The human rights defenders are calling upon the army and the police to investigate the criminal and unconstitutional attack by the soldiers, which left Musurudzwa bloody, injured and with torn apparel.

Notably, the attack happened after the Deputy Finance minister Zanu-PF Parliamentary candidate for Harare East (the constituency where the attack happened) Terence Mukupe, made suggestions that the army will not tolerate an opposition victory thereby giving credence to such utterances.

The attack was described as an abominable violation of human rights and a stain on the conduct for free, fair and credible elections at a time when other genuine concerns have also been raised about the transparency of the election process.

Last Friday, 13 July, 2018, a group of opposition MDC Alliance members campaigning for aspiring councillor, Ian Makone, was forced to defend itself after being attacked by a knife-wielding Zanu-PF supporter in Bindura.

Equally, acts of lawlessness by political activists have been witnessed including a group of suspected Zanu-PF activists who shot an amateur video of themselves bragging about participating in past political violence and discharging a firearm in Hatfield.

“The behaviour of the ruling party supporters betrays the impunity prevailing, which needs to be addressed in order to avoid recurrence. ZimRights is also concerned by acts of violence targeting MDC Alliance supporters recently recorded in Chitungwiza’s Nyatsime area during a funeral as well as several video evidence of violence mainly by ruling party supporters in other parts of the country.

“That the political parties signed the pledge for peace coordinated by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission remains insufficient and futile if political leaders do not disciple their sipporters and the law enforcement institutions do not bring perpetrators to book.”