July 19 2017 ‑ ZIMBABWEAN civic society organisations have raised concern over the “rise in political intolerance” in the country following the torching of MDC-T vice-president Elias Mudzuri’s near the city centre in the capital Harare yesterday, and the destruction of a perimeter wall at the house of the opposition party’s councillor, Wilton Janjazi, in the Kuwadzana high-density suburb.
ZimRights said it noted with concern “rising incidents of political violence” ahead of the 2018 elections, saying such acts were “clearly unconstitutional, criminal and inimical to efforts to maintain peace, harmony and tolerance ahead of the forthcoming elections in the country”.
ZimRights called upon the police to “urgently investigate this chain of violent crime and bring the perpetrators to book”, at the same time urging political parties to ensure their supporters observe peace during the current electoral campaigns.
“All the acts of damage to property have happened in Harare within one week and the attackers in all the cases have not been identified,” the human rights defenders said.
But (today) Tuesday, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Rita Makarau told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs and Gender that next year’s election would be different in that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police would be on the ground to minimise violence before, during and after elections.
“Zec remains upbeat about its preparedness to hold the 2018 elections and we realised there is need for a women-friendly environment,” she said.
“If the ZHRC sees violence, they are going to advise us to cancel the elections, and I think 2018 will be a different year.
“So far, ZHRC has said the environment is conducive for elections, and together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, they will constantly send us reports of what is happening on the ground.”
Another organisation, the Zimbabwe People’s Project (ZPP), said Janjazi had reported the matter to the police, adding it was “alarmed” by the increasing cases of attacks on MDC-T members.
The latest incidents come after home affairs minister Ignatius Chombo a week ago dismissed the attacks on opposition members’ properties as “an inside job”.
ZPP said such statements could have “emboldened perpetrators as witnessed by an increase in attacks of properties of MDC-T members”.
The Heal Zimbabwe Trust said 28 human rights violations from 18 districts had been recorded between June 27 and July 7.
The organisation said the violations fell into six categories, which included intimidation with threats of violence , threats of withdrawal of food aid or agricultural inputs, forced participation (in political meetings, financial or material contributions), unfair food aid distribution, arson and assault. – ANA