HZT condemns the assault of Bikita West by-election Candidate

Heal Zimbabwe condemns the assault of National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate in the Bikita West by election, Madock Chivasa and his election agent, Thomas Mudzamiri on the night of 17 January 2017. The two were attacked by 10 unidentified ZANU PF youths at Nyika growth point.

Narrating his ordeal, Mr. Chivasa said that the ZANU PF youths who were travelling in a green Ford Everest vehicle that had no number plates, had trailed them during the day as they were doing their campaigns. Around 10pm as they were about to depart Nyika Growth point, 10 ZANU PF youths ambushed them armed with guns and started assaulting them accusing them of being “sell-outs”. Mr. Chivasa was assaulted by a gun in the face and also sustained a broken arm while Mr. Mudzamiri sustained broken ribs. The assault took place in full glare of people present at the growth point.

The ZANU PF youths also accused Mr. Chivasa of trying to influence people in Bikita to vote against ZANU PF. The matter has been reported at Bikita police station but no arrests have been made. The attack comes hardly a few weeks after Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) member Melody Muganhiri was assaulted by ZANU PF Chairperson Mhurai Jecha on 29 December 2016 during a food distribution exercise at Gangarahwe ward centre in ward 22.Ms Muganhiri was assaulted for supporting ZPF.

Heal Zimbabwe has recorded 57 human rights violations in Bikita West since 01 November 2016. These include assault, vote buying, partisan distribution of aid, forced attendance to rallies, destruction of campaign material, hate speech, disruption of rallies, and threats issued to voters/candidates. The organisation condemns in the strongest terms the violations as they compromise the outcome of the by election. An upsurge in cases of human rights violations also  compromise the electoral playing field and casts doubt and uncertainty over the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections in Zimbabwe.

Heal Zimbabwe implores the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Government to put in place measures that ensure there is a level playing field for all the candidates ahead of the by election and the upcoming national elections in 2018.  Heal Zimbabwe further implores the police to urgently launch an investigation into the matter and bring the perpetrators to book. The government must also ensure that its citizens enjoy constitutional rights such as civil and political liberties which do not criminalize anyone from exercising his/her right to support a political party of choice.

Heal Zimbabwe also calls upon for the Government to put sufficient mechanisms and infrastructure for the full operationalisation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission which has the enormous responsibility of dealing with past cases of human rights violations and promote peace, social cohesion, healing and reconciliation. Bikita has a history of violence and if perpetrators go unpunished, it promotes a culture of impunity and lawlessness which might result in a vicious cycle of violence where perpetrators become victims and vice versa.  HZT continues to call for peace and tolerance ahead of the bi election to held on Saturday 21 January 2017.

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