Reports indicate that, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) were acting to contain the
situation that was unfolding in the Harare central business district. ZLHR has further received
information that armed elements of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) used excessive force to
disperse the protestors.
The protests erupted this morning with civilians protesting against the outcome of the 2018 harmonised
elections, although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission continued to announce the outstanding results
for the National Assembly elections at the National Command Centre, situated at the Rainbow Towers
hotel in Harare.
Reports indicate that the ZDF opened fire, using live bullets and wantonly brutally assaulting unarmed
protesters resulting in several people sustaining injuries and some people losing their lives.
While ZLHR does not condone any violent acts by members of the public or political party supporters,
we believe that the ZDF and the ZRP could have handled the situation in a restrained and reasonable
manner without subjecting members of the public, media practitioners and innocent by standers to
arbitrary and unlawful acts such as harassment, assault, torture, other forms of cruel and inhuman
treatment, loss of life, which are a violation of their fundamental rights.
The right to demonstrate is a fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right for citizens to exercise in expressing their concerns and aspirations as guaranteed in section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Further section 58 of the Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to freedom of assembly
and association. ZLHR wishes to remind the public, however that the right to demonstrate must also be
exercised with due regard of the rights of others.
While authorities may have been concerned by the conduct of the protestors, the ZDF’s conduct is
unacceptable and does not justify the brutal response. Such conduct by elements of the ZDF is a
serious threat to national security. The role of the ZDF as outlined in section 212 of the Constitution is to protect Zimbabwe, its people and uphold the supreme law. Further, the United Nations Basic
Principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials provide that lethal force may
only be used under circumstances where it is unavoidable and in order to protect life in proportion to
the seriousness of the situation and objective to be achieved.
ZLHR calls for:
• All members of the public to remain calm and peaceful;
• All political parties to encourage their members and members of the public to exercise their rights
with due regard to rights of others;
• Members of the ZRP and the ZDF to conduct themselves with utmost respect for all the
fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and international
instruments that Zimbabwe is party to;
• Those ZDF members involved in the gross violation of citizens’ rights to be appropriately disciplined
or prosecuted, regardless of their rank and be held accountable to prevent recurrence.