HomeLettersUpsurge in political violence cases worrying

Upsurge in political violence cases worrying

The Forum is a coalition of 22 human rights organisations with a mandate to address organised violence and torture (OVT).

The Forum was formed in 1998 following the January food riots, which were met with state heavy-handedness.

Since then, the Forum has stood side by side with over 2000 victims of OVT and handled over 7 000 civil cases and hundreds of criminal cases in local and international courts.

When the Forum was formed, our hope and belief were to eradicate OVT by a day such as this.

Developments of the last few days and weeks, however, are a painful reminder that we are a long way there.

These developments are threatening to plunge the nation into darker days ahead, with the potential for degeneration if the situation is not addressed intently and with care, and with fidelity to the Constitution.

On  June 10, 2022, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) stormed into a peaceful prayer meeting held at Zimbabwe Divine Destiny offices in central Harare and proceeded to arrest 35 church congregants, including popular cleric Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, on charges of disturbing public order.

Armed anti-riot police assaulted congregants with sjamboks and baton sticks without warning before escorting them to Harare Central Police Station.

The arrests came following a police ban on the launch of the “Zimbabwe We Want Campaign” — a church-led nation-building initiative calling for peace and prosperity in a corruption-free constitutional democracy that the clerics and congregants intended to launch that day.

Lawyers were denied access to the arrested upon arrival at the Harare Central Police Station.

Magaya was subsequently released on the same day while 34 congregants remained in custody.

On the same day, the ZRP barred a candlelight commemoration of late academic Alex Magaisa on allegations that the commemoration was in contravention of section 7(1)(a) of the Maintenance of Peace and Order [Chapter 11:23]. Notification of the gathering, which was submitted on 9 June 2022, was denied on the grounds that it was not given seven days before the date on which the commemoration was to be held.

It is inconceivable that the notification to hold a memorial procession could have been given prior to or in anticipation of Magaisa’s death.

The refusal by the police to sanction the candlelight procession in honour of Alex Magaisa is a grave violation of section 58 of the constitution on peaceful assembly.

Events in Chitungwiza have created a tense and charged atmosphere.

On  June 11,2022, the body of the opposition political party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activist Moreblessing Ali (46), who had been missing for two weeks, was found dumped in a well in Nyatsime in Chitungwiza.

Moreblessing’s body was found mutilated with the top and bottom parts of her body severed into two separate parts while her intestines had been packed into a plastic bag, suggesting that she was tortured.

There is every suggestion that this was a violent murder.

According to a ZRP statement, the police are on the search for the perpetrator who is alleged to be a Zanu PF member.

Politically motivated violence has since erupted in Nyatsime in the events following the discovery of Moreblessing’s body.

CCC members assembled to mourn the death of Moreblessing at her residential place in Nyatsime, which resulted in Zanu PF members led by their councillor, one Masimbi claiming that Moreblessing was a Zanu PF member.

The Zanu PF supporters went on to threaten to take over the funeral, declaring Nyatsime as a Zanu PF territory.

The highly divisive public utterance and threats to take over the funeral triggered retaliatory behaviour from CCC activists, who then torched a house belonging to Zanu PF branch chairperson George Murambatsvina.

The Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana took to Twitter castigating the destruction of Murambatsvina’s house and promising the “swift arm of the law” against the perpetrators.

Worryingly, the government and Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry did not issue any formal statement relating to the death and mutilation of Moreblessing Ali.

After the destruction of Murambatsvina’s house, CCC members allegedly proceeded to Chibhanguza Shopping Centre in Nyatsime where they damaged four vehicles suspected to belong to Zanu PF supporters.

It is alleged that CCC members proceeded to destroy a number of shops.

Following this, a heavy deployment of armed anti-riot police in armoured vehicles was observed in the Nyatsime area.

That heavy police presence has since increased with police trucks numbering up to six.

In retaliation for the destruction of Murambatsvina’s house, CCC community leader Misheck Guzha’s house was torched by alleged Zanu PF youths on June 14 in the evening.

In the same breath, CCC member, Audious Makomatsi’s tuckshop was also torched by the same group of suspected Zanu PF youths.

On the same evening, police officers arrested Job Sikhala, CCC Member of Parliament and party chairman who is also the legal representative of family members of Moreblessing Ali.

Sikhala is presently detained at Harare Central Police Station. CCC Member of Parliament for Chitungwiza North, Godfrey Sithole was also arrested and is being held at the Harare Central Police Station.

Sikhala and Sithole are being charged with inciting public violence.

Earlier on June 14, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiCZ) spokesperson and President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Obert Masaraure had been arrested and charged with murder, in a case that the court ruled out foul play after an inquest inquiry.

CiCZ has described Masaraure’s arrest as a case of political persecution to silence dissent.

In his 2017 inauguration speech, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised sweeping reforms to advance the safety and security of all citizens.

In his words “all citizens must feel secure.”

However, organised violence and torture driven by political polarisation and impunity have continued to increase, with the country being in a state of insecurity.

We have witnessed several cases of lawlessness and impunity which is breeding frustration and anarchy as citizens are bound to take the law into their hands.

The charged political environment has the potential of degenerating into more widespread political violence with repercussions too dire to contemplate for our young democracy. –Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum


Ultimatum against vendors misplaced  

V

endors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) notes remarks by Harare secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Tafadzwa Muguti in a local daily newspaper where he issued a seven-day ultimatum on businesses he described as acting outside the law in Harare Metropolitan province.

Whilst VISET holds no brief for anyone operating outside the laws of the country, we are particularly drawn to Muguti’s claim that as much as US$250 000 a day is being pocketed by space barons in highly populated market areas such as Mbare Musika, Glen View market and Mupedzanhamo.

It is a fact that our membership are the ones who are victims of these space barons who are fleeced on a daily basis in collusion with corrupt council officials and political party players.

We have in actual fact, constantly spoken on the need to transform the manner in which business is conducted in particular at Mbare Musika, advocating for decongestion through decentralisation of markets and even better management systems at Mbare Farmers Market in order to safeguard traders from unscrupulous middlemen better known in local parlance as makoronyera, but to no avail.

Mupedzanhamo has been closed since 2020, ostensibly as a part of Covid-19 containment strategies, but to date it remains closed with certain space barons collecting daily trading fees from those selling on the perimeter wall of the market.

These space barons are said to openly work in concert with corrupt district council officials.

We would want to urge Muguti to first of all ensure the immediate cessation of the operations of these barons who are in essence criminals, and the reopening of markets such as Mupedzanhamo, before the blitz he has spoken to is embarked upon.

Time and again, we have seen these space barons walk free whilst informal traders suffer demolitions, and this must be stopped, and prosecution of these space barons must happen if government is sincere in ensuring that we all have equality at law.

Council must also enact measures that ensure there is adequate market space in sought after areas like Mbare and to that end we still await construction at Shawasha grounds which has long been promised.

Lastly, we hope that Muguti will desist from applying a hammer approach to his way of dealing with issues and that he adopts a collaborative spirit with Informal Economy actors in keeping with the Formalisation strategy being spearheaded by the ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare.

Threats and ultimatums have no place in an aspiring middle income earning economy! –VISET


Feedback

ON the Day of the African Child, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the public to reflect on improving the welfare of all African children.

ZLHR urges the Zimbabwean authorities to adopt and implement robust measures that are designed to eradicate all harmful practices affecting children. ZLHR also urges the authorities to comply with their constitutional obligation to improve the welfare of all children in Zimbabwe and ensure equal access to education opportunities for girls and boys.

The Day of the African Child is commemorated annually on June 16 in order to highlight the immense challenges that are faced by children across the African continent. It is also an opportunity for the world to collaborate towards the eradication of these challenges. The Day of the African Child is also an opportunity for the world to pay tribute to the South African children who were murdered on 16 June 1971 in Soweto, while they were protesting for better education and the right to be taught in their native languages.

The theme for the Day of the African Child in 2022 is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013”. The theme calls upon everyone to reflect on the policies and measures that have been adopted, since 2013, in order to eliminate all harmful practices that affect African children. These harmful practices include social and cultural practices, such as child marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) that infringe the rights of children. The harmful practices have an adverse impact on the dignity, health, well-being and development of African children.

Ultimately, these practices prevent children from enjoying their human rights, which are entrenched in various international treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

In commemoration of Day of the African Child, we must all evaluate the effectiveness of the measures and policies that have been adopted by African states in order to eradicate all harmful social and cultural practices that violate the rights of African children.-ZLHR

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