CIASA Statement on Escalating Political Violence

The Citizens In Action Southern Africa is deeply concerned by the escalating political violence ahead of the harmonized elections later this year. This afternoon, armed, button-wielding anti-riot police invaded the home of opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Member of Parliament Costa Mangichauta.

This unwarranted operation resulted in the clubbing and subsequent arrest of 25 CCC activists and perceived political opponents to the ruling ZANU PF party including Mkoba Member of Parliament Amos Chibaya. After this sting operation, the police went on a campaign around Budiriro Township, beating up suspected and perceived opponents of the ruling ZANU PF party. In response, CIASA deployed a team to closely monitor the events as they constituted gross Human Rights violation for the victims of violence and the residents of Budiriro Township. The arrested persons have been detained and await their charges and expected to be in court within the stipulated 48hrs from the time of arrest.

This pattern of politically motivated violence and persecution is characteristic of elections in Zimbabwe and this particular election has a growing concern over the overtness of the violence and the indifference by government. Similarly, 2022 was characterized by serious bouts of violence in the run up towards the March 26 by-elections and many by-elections that followed. Pursuant to this rising trend is an increasingly authoritarian regime that is consistently shutting civic space and suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution of Zimbabwe. With just fortnight into the year, Zimbabwe has experienced grueling images of violence meted out against defenseless elderly folks in an orgy of political violence in Murehwa District which saw the hospitalization of the victims.

Repeated calls for electoral reforms are ever more relevant today as the ever growing scourge of violence engulfs the whole electoral cycle. Security sector independence in the execution of its mandate is a prerequisite for any credible election and this clear partisan conduct by the Zimbabwe Republic Police should be shunned by all political actors and government alike. The unwarranted attack on a civilian leader’s home and subsequent arrest of dozens of opposition figures presents a sad reality as to the fairness of the coming election and the evenness of the playing field.

CIASA therefore strongly urges the government of Zimbabwe to remain committed to the Bill of Rights and the defense of civil liberties endowed to all Zimbabweans and global citizens. The government is also urged to maintain a non-partisan bias as the foundation of a functional administration and allow all political actors the freedoms accorded by the constitution of Zimbabwe. Finally, government is strongly encouraged to oversee operations by uniformed forces and protect civilians from such brutal and unwarranted conduct.

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