Chinamasa says, its not my responsibility

And AG wont act against rights abusers
chinamasaHARARE - Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa (Pictured) last week told Parliament that he cannot be held responsible for the state's failure to prosecute perpetrators of political violence that left at least 200 MDC supporters dead two years ago.

Responding to a question from MDC legislator Alexio Musundire why the government has not brought to justice people who committed political, Chinamasa appeared to pass the buck onto the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs that he said are responsible of ensuring that criminals are brought to book

I am responsible for the courts of law. The policemen come with the suspect, I provide the courtroom and the judge. For cases to come to the courts, it is the duty of the police to arrest suspects and bring them to the courts,” Chinamasa said.

Zimbabwe witnessed some of its worst political violence in 2008 after a presidential election that was won by the then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai but with fewer votes to avoid a second run-off ballot.

In a bid to ensure Mugabe regained the upper hand in the second round vote, ZANU PF militia, war veterans and state security agents unleashed an orgy of violence and terror across the country, especially in rural areas many of which virtually became no-go areas for the opposition.

Tsvangirai later withdrew from the run-off election because of violence that he says in addition to claiming the lives of his supporters left thousands of others displaced from their homes. Mugabe won the vote uncontested in a ballot that African observers denounced as a shame and Western governments refused to recognize forcing the veteran leader to agree to form a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, while MDC leader Arthur Mutambara was appointed a deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile Attorney General Johannes Tomana has dismissed as political and trivial a letter from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) asking the government to prosecute people who political violence in Muzarabani district during the 2008 vote or face a legal suit.

Acting on behalf of 12 survivors of political violence, the ZLHR a fortnight ago wrote to the government to probe acts of arson, assault, torture and murder committed in Muzarabani, 300km north-east of Harare, during the violence-marred polls.

In a letter copied to Tomana, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police, the ZLHR said failure by the government to investigate rights abuses would only encourage perpetrators to repeat their criminal acts against the survivors of the 2008 election violence during new elections expected next year.

The lawyers group submitted to the government a dossier containing details of the cases of rights abuses and political violence committed in Muzarabani. But Tomana, the governments chief legal advisor and in charge of prosecutions said he will not even bother looking at the dossier because it was not compiled by the police.

Ill not be engaged in trivialities or politics, said Tomana, who is considered a hardliner ally of President Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF) party that is accused of committing most of the political violence and rights abuses in Zimbabwe over the past decade. If these so-called human rights defenders have genuine cases why do they not work with the police and the cases are investigated. I can only work on a docket brought to my office by police, he said.

ZLRH member Rangu Nyamurundira, who is handling the matter, was not available to shed light on what action the group that had given the state up to last Monday to act against perpetrators of rights abuses or face legal action will take next.

Nyamurundira was last week said to have travelled out of Harare.

Post published in: Politics

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