Activists Freedom of expression and hate speech

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) condemns the arrest of activist, Godfrey Tsenengamu after he delivered a press conference that is critical of President Robert Mugabe and the First lady Grace Mugabe.

 Tsenengamu was responding to remarks by the First lady last week at a rally in Buhera that President Mugabe would continue to rule the country from the grave. She also accused senior party officials of plotting to topple President Mugabe and further insinuated that none of them were qualified to succeed the President.

Tsenengamu, a loyalist of Vice President Mnangagwa organised a press conference to respond to Grace Mugabe. He anointed Mnangagwa as the next president of the country.

Tsenengamu has been arrested and is being charged for contravening the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) by holding the Press Conference without Police Clearance. Citizens have the right to freedom of expression and do not need the permission of the police to speak to the media.

We urge the police to respect the political freedoms of citizens and in the same vain the ruling party desists from engaging in hate speech especially on the emotive issue of succession.   Careless and thoughtless political statements only serve to escalate conflict within the ruling party and among those with diverging political views.

As we go towards the 2018 elections we urge politicians to exercise restraint and avoid making inflammatory statements in the media or at rallies. Where political stakes are high such as the succession issue in the ruling party, hate speech may cause violence. Internal party contradictions within the ruling party have often led to violence and must be solved amicably.

The use of state apparatus to settle political arguments in this case amounts to an infringement of the right to freedom of expression of citizens and shows the government’s willingness to abuse state apparatus to crush political dissent. Government must respect citizens’ political freedoms.

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.

If you are concerned about acts of violence in your community, ZPP encourages you to get in touch with us on Hotline and WhatsApp numbers  +263 774 883 406 and +263 774 883 417 Toll Free: 080 80199

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