Partisan conduct of police will fuel violence ahead of elections

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition calls on law enforce-ment agents to arrest perpetrators of violence as a way of ensuring peace and tolerance of divergent views ahead of the forthcoming plebiscite. CiZC notes with concern escalating cases of politically motivated violence and intimidation including intra party violence within the Zanu PF, which we fear come election time will be diverted to target supporters of op-position political parties.

Last week, at a residents meeting organised by the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) slated for Nyamutamba hotel in Chitungwiza, a suspected MDC- T supporter was assaulted by more than 60 alleged Zanu Pf youths, who identified him and beat him up before stealing his mobile phone and cash.

According to witnesses at the aborted dialogue meeting which was set to host speakers from both MDC-T and Zanu PF among others, ZANU PF youths chanted slogans and challenged the organisers of the meeting that their gathering was not going to be held since the issue that they wanted to discuss was not within their jurisdiction.  It was alleged that the visibly drunk Zanu PF youths had been sent by one former councillor, Charamba Mlambo, who was implicated in the Chitngwiza Town Council graft and suspended together with Chitungwiza mayor and the rest of the councillors by the local government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere last month. Victims of the violence reported their case at St Mary’ s police station.

However, it could not be established whether the culprits were apprehended despite that they are well known Zanu Pf stalwarts who are in the habit of terrorising opposition political party members in Chi-tungwiza.   In a related development, barely a week later, MDC-T youths also clashed with their rival Zanu PF counter-parts in Epworth where the latter’s chairperson was as-saulted.   Over the weekend, bloody clashes erupted at Davies Hall in Bulawayo ahead of a Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting.

According to reports, district youth chairperson, Magura Charumbira, was allegedly stabbed by youths from a rival faction who claimed that he was supporting an anti Kasukuwere campaign. Of the three violent skirmishes, it is disheartening to note that only MDC T members who clashed with Zanu Pf have appeared before the courts. Such precedence sets a bad example especially as we head towards elections. Those who engage in acts of vio-lence should be arrested and charged accordingly regardless of their political affiliation. Exhibiting a culture of impunity and bias towards Zanu PF stalwarts is not just morally wrong but is a violation of the constitution as it relates to the conduct of the police.   Regardless of one’s political affiliation, we call on the government to ensure that those who are involved in acts of violence are brought to book.

We therefore implore government through the relevant arms to ensure transparency and professionalism in the conduct of police and execute their core mandate with-out bias or favour. We have in the past emphasised the importance of elec-toral reforms as the basis of a credible, free and fair poll.  Ensuring a police force which is not partisan is of utmost importance if the country is to hold elections whose out-come will not be disputed and reflective of the true will of the people.

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