ERC deplores violence ahead of Bikita West by-election

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) unconditionally condemns the violent attacks on the opposition candidate for Bikita West National Assembly by-election and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) representative Madock Chivasa together with his election agent, Thomas Mudzamiri by unidentified assailants at Nyika growth point.

The nature of the assault gives the impression that this could reasonably be another case of politically motivated violence following similar attacks upon supporters of Zimbabwe People First party in recent weeks. The escalation of violence is deplorable and confirms the enduring vice of intolerance during electoral contests.

Violence, in whatever form, and by any member of our society is not acceptable as it is in contravention of section 52 (a) of the Constitution which guarantees every person the rights “to freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources”.

The ERC calls upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission whose function is “to support and entrench human rights and democracy” as stipulated in Chapter 12 section 233 (a) of the Constitution to immediately investigate the matter and take appropriate action as provided for in the Code of Conduct for Elections.

The ERC urges the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as an institution responsible for enforcement of the law to ensure that the arrests of the perpetrators of violence in Bikita West is done expeditiously.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC principles and guidelines guiding the conduct of elections which encourage the holding of violence free elections.

State and non-state actors have a mandate to protect, promote and respect all human rights provisions as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, other sections of the Constitution and other international statutory instruments that Zimbabwe is a signatory to.

The ERC implores election authorities to seriously consider tightening enforcement mechanisms and institute deterrent mechanisms which in future will dissuade would-be perpetrators of violence from opting for physical conquests where they should have engaged in a contestation of ideas.

The ERC also calls upon the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to expedite electoral reforms being called for by a majority of Zimbabweans which will go a long way in ensuring credibility of future electoral processes whilst limiting such cases of politically motivated violence.

Electoral stakeholders, including citizens have the mandate to ensure existence of tolerance at all tiers of society which will entrench the democratic spaces that many Zimbabweans cherish.

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