Disruptions of public hearings a cause for concern

Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) calls for an urgent cessation of the disturbing trend of violent disruptions of public hearings as witnessed in Harare, Mutare, Mutoko and lately Bulawayo.

Innocent Gonese

Innocent Gonese

In line with Section 149 (1) of the Zimbabwean Constitution, Election Resource Centre (ERC) is holding countrywide public hearings in Bulawayo, Concession, Gwanda, Gweru, Harare, Mutare and Mutoko. The hearings are aimed at gathering the views of the nation on the petition calling for the right to vote for all eligible voters, electoral justice, a continuous process of voter education, independence of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and an improved voter registration process.
Rowdy Zanu PF youths, women and known Members of Parliament disrupted in a barbaric way the three meetings that have been held so far. In Mutare Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Committee chairperson Jessie Majome and MDC-T Chief Whip and Mutare Central MP, Innocent Gonese, were assaulted in the violent incident. These acts remind us of the violent disruptions that marked some of the hearings around the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill as well as some constitution outreach processes. When citizens gather to hear views and to offer views on certain critical matters such as elections, political activists regardless of affiliation have no place impinging on the rights of those citizens.
ZPP is equally disturbed by the violence that took centre stage in the August House on Wednesday October 26. It is sad that some female members of the house allege being indecently abused by the police. ZPP expects officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to restore law and order when such public and constitutional meetings are held. Zimbabweans cannot tolerate a system that allows for political party supporters to perpetrate violence with impunity.
Zimbabweans have the right to convene and discuss issues of national interest without fear of victimisation, intimidation or harassment. Zanu PF leaders, youths and women should be reined in by the respective political party leadership and be instructed to respect national processes. At the same time police should be reminded of their mandate as the nation can no longer have incidents where violence is perpetrated either by police or in the presence of police offers without any consequences.
ZPP is a Non Governmental Organisation that was founded in 2000 by a group of faith based and human rights NGOs working and interested in human rights and peace-building initiatives. ZPP has become a vehicle for civic interventions in times of political crises. In particular, ZPP seeks to monitor and document incidents of human rights violations and breaches of peace.

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