The Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC-T party has demanded Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to investigate cases of alleged police brutality, warning if the conduct of law enforcers goes unchecked, the country risks sliding into anarchy.
By Everson Mushava
In a letter to Chombo dated August 30, MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora accused the police of inciting violence by indiscriminately attacking civilians during the current wave of protests against President Robert Mugabe’s alleged misrule.
The letter was copied to Mugabe, Sadc, the African Union, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Officer Commanding Harare district, Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, who is responsible for clearing protests in the capital.
Mwonzora said the MDC-T had held several peaceful protests, but the recent ones had been disrupted by the police who allegedly incited violence.
“We refer to the above issues and address you as the party concerned with gross violations of human rights by both the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the government of Zimbabwe,” Mwonzora wrote.
“We, however, foresee that there will be more human rights abuses by the police and government if no timely intervention is made. We urge you to respect the constitution, failure of which there will be anarchy in this country. This is not, has not and will never be our intention.”
Zimbabwe has been rocked by protests in the past weeks, with some deteriorating into violence that most observers claim was being incited by the police. But Chombo and the ruling Zanu PF party have remained adamant that the MDC-T and Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) parties are responsible.
Last week’s protest organised by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a coalition of 18 opposition political parties, and MDC-T youths’ #myZimbabwe campaign was marred by violence and looting in Harare.
But Mwonzora said the violence was triggered after police started indiscriminately firing teargas and water cannons on citizens who became angry and retaliated.
“In particular, police have resorted to savagely assaulting demonstrators and members of the public,” he said.
“This has naturally angered the public. It was lost on you that members of the public unjustifiably attacked by the police could retaliate.”
Mwonzora urged Chombo to take time to assess the various videos of police brutality on defenceless citizens that have gone viral, saying the conduct of the police posed a serious threat to international relations.
“The behaviour of the government is, thus, high-handed and irresponsible. It does not do the current international engagements processes any good. In other words, by this very behaviour, the government of Zimbabwe is imposing sanctions on itself,” part of the letter read.
Mwonzora said Chombo went on to accuse the MDC-T and ZimPF and this led to the arrest of many opposition supporters whom he said were currently being denied bail under unclear circumstances.
He said this was despite the fact that Zanu PF supporters allegedly abducted seven MDC-T youths and assaulted them on the day of the Nera protests and no arrests had been made.
Mwonzora also said Zanu PF youths had been marching in the city centre without police clearance but the police had remained quiet.
Chombo could not be reached for comment yesterday.