Never again should we witness a repeat of Kwekwe violence

Letters to the editor

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) strongly condemns acts of violence that took place at a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally in Mbizo, Kwekwe, on February 27, 2022.

Some of the people who were attacked at CCC Kwekwe rally

ZLHR urges citizens to shun political violence and all forms of intolerance towards members of different political parties.

ZLHR also calls upon Zimbabwean authorities to urgently investigate all incidents of political violence so that perpetrators of such heinous crimes can be held accountable for their actions.

On February 27, 2022, suspected ruling Zanu PF party youths committed acts of violence against supporters of the CCC party, who were gathered for a rally at Mbizo 4 shopping centre in Kwekwe.

The violence broke out while CCC leader Nelson Chamisa was addressing his supporters at an open space at the shopping centre.

A number of suspected Zanu PF party followers disguised as CCC party supporters threw stones at the CCC members, injuring several people in the process.

A man was stabbed multiple times during the skirmishes that ensued and he subsequently lost his life after being admitted to Kwekwe General Hospital.

The deplorable acts of violence committed by suspected Zanu PF members are extremely concerning because they threaten Zimbabwe’s democracy and rule of law. A thriving democracy depends on respect for fundamental rights of everyone by all members of society and tolerance towards people who may have differing political views.

Such violence is also a threat to the peaceful co-existence of all Zimbabwean citizens, regardless of their political opinion, association or background.

Violence is also frowned upon by international law.

Section 52(a) of the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to be free from all forms of violence.

Section 155 prescribes that electoral processes should be free from violence.

The acts of violence by suspected Zanu PF party youths flout these constitutional principles.

The targeting of CCC party supporters by the ruling party’s supporters demonstrates the latter’s wanton disregard for the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and association, which is enshrined in section 58 of the Constitution.

The unprovoked attacks on the CCC party supporters by the Zanu PF party youths infringe the victims’ right to personal security, human dignity and right to life.

The prosperity of Zimbabwe’s democracy heavily depends upon the successful prevention of these politically-motivated violent acts.

Therefore, ZLHR calls upon:

  • All members of society to shun political violence and all forms of intolerance towards members of different political parties;
  • Members of the ruling party to condemn and desist from violent activities;
  • The authorities to urgently investigate the acts of violence that took place at the CCC party rally in Kwekwe so that the perpetrators can be held accountable.
  • The authorities to take concrete steps designed to prevent politically-motivated acts of violence from recurring in the future. –ZLHR

Electoral stakeholders must foster peace ahead of polls

THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) implores electoral stakeholders to foster peace ahead of the March 26 by-elections and 2023 harmonised elections.

The network is deeply concerned about the recent spate of inter-party as well as intra-party violence, which taints the credibility of electoral processes.

The recent violent clashes have the potential to adversely affect the response of citizens to the ongoing voter registration exercise as violence impacts negatively participation in electoral processes especially of women and people with disabilities.

Political and electoral-related violence undermines civil and political rights and affects citizens’ right to compete in electoral processes.

Also, it erodes trust in democratic processes as well as undermine the quality of democracy thereby limiting inclusive participation.

Furthermore, acts of violence often lead to voter apathy, especially among women and people with disabilities, which, in turn, defeats the desired 50/50 approach to gender balance in electoral processes and leadership positions.

It is against this background that Zesn urges political parties to create a conducive political environment where all citizens enjoy their fundamental rights without impendiment.

Zesn calls on political parties to embrace divergent views and promote peace in the country as well as put in place mechanisms that promote the participation of women in electoral processes.

Zesn recommends the arrest of perpetrators of violence and adoption of a holistic and expanded legal framework to deal with perpetrators of political and electoral-related
violence.- Zesn

Social media, a vehicle for change

SOCIAL media has made it easy to connect with family members, political leaders, friends and relatives in far away places on a real-time basis.

With social media, people have managed to share pictures, live-stream events, record videos and communicate with their loved ones regardless of distance.

This has strengthened relationships and it has brought families together in a way that was not possible before.

Social media, if well nurtured and managed, is likely to be a vehicle for change for the marginalised and also to keep opposition parties afloat and connected to the mainstream social media grid.

The strongest opposition political party, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), should use social media extensively to sell its story and brand to the electorate as the State media door is closed to it.

There was an outcry from some sections of the media that CCC leader Nelson Chamisa has barred the State media such as The Herald and ZBC-TV at his rallies.

Such complaints are genuine, but the State media is serving the revolutionary party and ignoring other political players.

Chamisa’s decision is correct considering that he won’t even get airplay or space in government-controlled media.

The reporting and coverage of the so-called print and electronic public media in Zimbabwe is so pathetic and biased towards the ruling party.

It does not positively cover the opposition, but only targets what suits its narrative.

Nearly 75% of the local content broadcast on ZBC-TV, is full of Zanu PF propaganda and does not engage other stakeholders.

The State media has been overtaken by social media and is struggling to churn out a strong propaganda narrative.

In most cases, it has constantly been outdone by social media, which has always been on top of the situation when breaking news.

Social media has been countering government propaganda by providing evidence through photos and videos.

Social media has managed to gather and disseminate news quickly and widely.

Very few people are following State media, hence it has lost both revenue and viewership due to poor content as a lot of people have opted for social media. –Leonard Koni