Zimbabwe’s independent election body worried over increase in incidences of politically motivated violence

By Wallace Mawire

A student and human rights activist holds a banner during a peaceful protest in Harare, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Human rights defenders say it appears the government is using restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19 to suppress political criticism. Opposition officials, human rights groups and some analysts accuse Mnangagwa of abusing the rights of critics, using tactics as harsh as his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe.
© 2020 AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi.

The Election Resource Centre in Zimbabwe has reported that it is concerned over reports of recent incidents of politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe.

The organization says that it deplores the incidence of violence at a ZANU PF provincial coordinating committee meeting in Mutare at Marymount Teachers College on 9 October 2021 and attacks of the MDC Alliance convoy between 11 and 12 October 2021 which included stoning cars, barricading roads with burning logs and assaulting members of the MDC Alliance.

ERC said that it was certain that most Zimbabweans would wish to disassociate themselves from such acts.

“Acts of intimidation and inter- or intra-party-political violence should not be tolerated in a democracy, and those responsible for instigating such violence should be brought to justice. In this regard, we call for political parties and their leaders to conduct themselves peacefully. There must be a full investigation of incidences of violence and all those found responsible must be held accountable,” ERC said.

The ERC also urged political parties in Zimbabwe to renounce the use of provocative language and dissemination of misinformation and falsehoods that promote political tensions, divisiveness and violence to promote the freeness, fairness and openness of the political and electoral environment.

They also said that they called on all parties to respect the democratic principles that are set out in Zimbabwe’s constitution which will contribute to a peaceful, just, and democratic society.

“Through these principles, a broader peaceful electoral environment can be achieved contributing to a level playing field for all.

The Election Resource Centre recommended to political parties that political party leaders at all levels must publicly and sincerely always condemn violence within their party structures, political parties must refrain from perpetrating violence and instigating violations of human rights, political parties must ensure the protection of the rights to human dignity, personal security and freedom from torture, or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as enshrined in sections 51 to 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

ERC has also called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold its duty to respect fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in section 44 of the Constitution.

ERC called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to implement all electoral reforms including those proffered by the Motlanthe Commission.

Government has also been called upon to ensure the full protection of fundamental human rights as dictated by international human rights law and the duties and obligations imposed by treaties and conventions that Zimbabwe is a party to.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and all other independent institutions concerned with supporting democracy and ensuring an improved political and electoral environment have been urged to condemn all forms of violence, support and entrench human rights and democracy as provided for in section 233 of the Constitution.

Citizens of Zimbabwe have been urged to refrain from perpetrating violence and to be vigilant in reporting such acts to responsible authorities.

Sporadic acts of violence have erupted as the country is heading towards holding its national elections in 2023.Reports of political violence have been reported in previous elections in the past years especially pitting the ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition MDC party.

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