POLICE yesterday accused politicians from across the divide of stoking violence, thus making it extremely difficult for the law enforcement agents to professionally discharge their duties.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi made the remarks during a meeting on peace and elections organised by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in collaboration with the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) in Harare yesterday.
Nyathi said: “Some politicians lie, for example, a politician wanted to hold a rally in a building in Bulawayo. His gathering was cleared by the police, but the property owner did not want it. The politician later addressed the gathering and claimed he had been denied by the police.”
Nyathi said police would now seek confirmation from property owners before clearing gatherings.
He was responding to concerns by participants over partisan policing in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
NTJWG programmes co-ordinator Wilbert Mandinde said the public no longer felt safe to report violations to the police for fear of being labelled perpetrators.
Police have often been accused of blocking gatherings and rallies organised by opposition political parties and pro-democracy groups.
Ahead of the March 26 by-elections, a number of rallies organised by the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) were banned by the police under unclear circumstances.
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But Nyathi said politicians were to blame for the confusion as they tended to book same venues booked by their rivals.
“We want the church to assist. Politicians say different things, preach peace during the day and during the night sending people to fight rivals and use hate language. Our politicians lie,” Nyathi said.
“Politicians, please unite people so that you make the work of the police easier. You use hate speech, when you are made to account for your work, you play the victim.
“Is it that when you address people you always must be confrontational? We want mature politics, talk about peace and what you want to do to the people, not incite violence.”
He said it was difficult to talk of peaceful elections in 2023 when people were inciting violence over social media.
Even in Parliament, he said, MPs use hate language against each other and that triggers violence.
ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata said it was possible to achieve a non-violent 2023 election if stakeholders worked together.
Ian Makone, the CCC head of elections, challenged the police to be non-partisan. He said his party would next month release its proposed electoral reforms document.
“CCC will issue its document on election reforms. Among the seven key points that we mention in that document are the security of the voter and the security of the vote, all of which are undermined by violence on our land,” Makone said.
MDC Alliance secretary for defence, Solomon Sox Chikowere, said his party was advocating for an inclusive dialogue to end violence.
Representatives from Zanu PF, Zec and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission did not turn up for the meeting although they had been invited.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission attended the meeting.