ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns in the strongest terms, the barbaric conduct of some ruling ZANU PF party supporters, who unleashed violence on opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party supporters in Matobo in Matabeleland South province.
On Sunday 16 October 2022, several CCC party supporters sustained injuries after they were assaulted and roughed up by some ZANU PF party supporters who they encountered while preparing for a local authority by-election for Ward 2 in Matobo in Matabeleland South province scheduled for 22 October 2022.
Some women were indecently abused, as they were forced to undress, by the ZANU PF party supporters. Several vehicles and houses were also damaged while some goods were reported to have been looted at a local shop and at a homestead.
ZLHR condemns this unacceptable, violent, inhuman, dehumanising and degrading treatment of people, which has no place in a civilised society.
The deplorable acts of violence by supporters of ZANU PF party are extremely concerning considering that they are happening ahead of general elections scheduled for 2023.
Violence has no place in an aspiring democracy and is a monumental threat to the peaceful co-existence of all Zimbabwean citizens and such acts by some misguided political party supporters threaten Zimbabwe’s democratic trajectory.
Tolerance towards people who hold differing political views and utmost respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone by all members of society is key to achieving a thriving democracy.
Section 52(a) of the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to be free from all forms of violence while section 155 of the Constitution also prescribes that electoral processes must be free from violence and other electoral malpractices.
The acts of violence perpetrated by ZANU PF party supporters on CCC party members contravene these constitutional provisions and are a malicious disregard for fundamental rights and freedoms such as the right to life, the right to human dignity, the right to personal
security, freedom of assembly and association and political rights.
In recent months and weeks, ZLHR has also noted rising incidents of political violence across the country where opposition political party supporters have been subjected to wanton violence.
This onslaught bears all the hallmarks of a pre-meditated attack, which is aimed at intimidating political contestants and their supporters and block them from accessing potential voters and constituents.
The actions of ZANU PF party supporters fly in the face of contents of a report released during the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 50th session by Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, whoraised concerns about the violation and curtailment of freedoms of
association, peaceful assembly and expression and asked government to take measures consistent with his recommendations produced through his country visit to Zimbabwe.
Sadly, the perpetration of violence by some ZANU PF supporters comes some few days after Zimbabwe recently joined the world to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence, which is a global observance that promotes non-violence.
The unprecedented levels of polarisation can only be addressed when there is political will from leaders of offending political parties, who must preach tolerance, diversity of political beliefs and thought and decisively dissuade their supporters from resorting to barbaric
and stone-age tactics of settling perceived political differences.
To stem the culture of violence, ZLHR calls upon;
• ZANU PF party supporters to shun political violence and all forms of intolerance towards members of different political parties;
• Leaders and members of ZANU PF party to condemn and desist from all violent activities and to inculcate a culture of tolerance and non-violence in settling disputes;
• Zimbabwe Republic Police to urgently and thoroughly investigate the acts of violence that took place in Matobo and all other incidences of political violence across the country and bring perpetrators of violence to account irrespective of their political party affiliation.