CIVIL rights group, #ThisConstitution leader, Abigale Mupambi yesterday challenged the government, civil society groups and opposition political parties to ensure peace and rule of law prevailed in the country before, during and after polls.
BY SILAS NKALA
The remarks came at a time when human rights watchdog, Heal Zimbabwe, in its latest report, recorded 17 human rights violations from 13 districts between February 27 and March 9.
The trust said in the period under review, three categories of human rights violations were recorded.
“The human rights violations include intimidation (with threats of violence or threats of withdrawal of food aid or agricultural inputs), assault and partisan distribution of aid. Intimidation remains the major cause for concern, with 76,4% (13 cases) being recorded, followed by assault and partisan distribution of food and agricultural inputs both recording 11,8% each (two cases),” the organisation’s report reads.
“The recorded human rights cases largely emanated from the emergence of new political parties, the collection of biometric voter registration serial numbers, the deployment of army officials in some rural communities and Zanu PF restructuring exercises in local communities.
“Intimidation remains a cause for concern for Heal Zimbabwe, as it continues to threaten and destabilise the prevalence of social cohesion and peace in communities. Local communities continue to be victimised by some political gatekeepers, who instil fear as a way of gaining control and mobilising support for the ruling Zanu PF party.”
Mupambi said as the election campaigns gather momentum across the country, her organisation was reminding Zimbabweans and the government, of the sacrosanct duty to observe, recognise and uphold the Constitution throughout the whole process.
“Section 67 of our Constitution provides for universal adult suffrage as an inalienable right. The right of every adult Zimbabwean to belong to any political party of their choice in whatever capacity, is constitutionally guaranteed, not criminalised,” she said.
“Political violence, itself symptomatic of deep-seated intolerance, is a cancerous phenomenon that has been characteristic of our electoral processes over the years, and whose poisonous influence has often negatively affected the legitimacy thereof, justifiably so.”
Mupambi said the country could not move forward without addressing the legitimacy and credibility of electoral processes and outcomes.
“To that end, constitutionalism is key, as all mechanisms to ensure free, fair, legitimate and credible elections are enshrined herein. Adherence to these is the only way to go for all citizens,” she said.
“One tragedy of our democracy has been voter apathy, with a large chunk of our eligible population rather choosing not to participate in electoral processes. It surely must be impressed upon our people that voting is a patriotic duty, one which gives the citizenry the chance to determine the national destiny by electing into public offices individuals and political institutions with the right personalities, policies and programs to take the country forward.”
“We hereby urge all Zimbabweans to register and vote in the coming harmonised elections. Being very much alive to the gross, flagrant human right violations (often State-sponsored) that have always been characteristic of our democratic processes, we, hereby, call for all citizens and institutions involved to shun violence and preach peace,” she added.
She said Zimbabwe could not afford another disputed election, so the government should level the playing field and repeal draconian pieces of legislation like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the Public Order and Security Act.