Bikita west violence raises fears of bloody 2018 polls

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition implores the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate cases of violence and intimidation ahead of the Bikita West by-election set for January 21, 2017.

Beauty Chabaya

The reports of intimidation and violence are a huge cause for concern and a huge obstacle to the holding of free and fair elections.

Of major concern is the fact that past elections in Zimbabwe, including by-elections have been marred by violence and intimidation which has largely been perpetrated by ruling party activists.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is concerned that the culture of violence has been allowed to continue while no corrective measures are being taken to ensure free and fair polls that allow voters to make their choices freely without fear.

What has worsened the situation is the partisan conduct of law enforcement agents who have turned themselves into political commissars for the ruling party against the dictates of the country’s supreme law.

The result has been victimization and threats to opposition activists who have for long failed to get redress in the event of them being attacked or threatened.

In the case of Masvingo province, senior army officers and Zanu (PF) politicians are on record threatening violence against opposition supporters and it has become quite apparent that Zanu (PF) is out to win elections at all costs and this includes unleashing violence.

Events in Bikita West raise fears of another bloody election in 2018 and we fear a repeat of the 2008 elections during which Zanu (PF) violence resulted in the death of more than 200 opposition activists around the country.

Intimidation and violence by Zanu (PF) supporters has brought the credibility of elections in Zimbabwe into disrepute as is the case in Bikita West where there have also been reports of vote buying by the Zanu (PF) candidate, Beauty Chabaya.

CIZC implores law enforcement agents to desist from serving partisan interests as their partisan conduct has allowed ruling party activists to act above the law.

We further call upon ruling party politicians to desist from making reckless statements that have the potential of fuelling violence and hatred in communities.

We would also like to reiterate our call for local, regional and international democratic forces to intervene in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis and avoid unnecessary loss of lives.

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