By Staff Reporter
A local non-governmental organisation working to promote peace in Zimbabwe’s fractured political environment has slammed the opposition MDC-T after violence rocked its internal polls at the weekend.
Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said it was appalled by the development and feared this could spill into the general elections.
According to the group, MDC-T supporters clashed during a consensus meeting in Budiriro after disagreements over the selection of parliamentary and council candidates resulting in current MP Costa Machingautato fleeing the venue of the meeting as party youths charged at him.
In Glen View North, party supporters turned violent and accused sitting legislator Fani Munengami of removing names of those contesting him in the party’s primary elections.
“HZT is dismayed by the continued disregard of political tolerance among political parties as the nation braces for the much awaited 2018 elections,” the group said.
“Hardly a week ago, violence and intimidation rocked Zanu PF primary elections as party supporters clashed over reports of vote rigging and manipulation of voter registers.
“Heal Zimbabwe views the lack of political tolerance as a recipe for political violence. It is also Heal Zimbabwe’s view that tolerance, pluralism are principles central to the attainment of peace and form core pillars of democracy.”
Other incidences of violence were also recorded in Glen View South where the late founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s daughter Vimbai had to be escorted out of the venue after party supporters turned violent and accused her of imposing herself in the constituency.
Again, in Glen Norah aspiring councillors for Ward 28, Albert Hwenjere caused a commotion and threatened to contest as an independent after being disqualified on grounds that he has a criminal record.
Several incidences of violence and intimidation were also recorded in Glen Norah, Zengeza, Kambuzuma and Gokwe.
HZT called on political parties to adhere to a code of conduct that has since been incorporated into the Electoral Act.
“In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores MDC-T and other political parties to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates which stipulates that no political party or any of its members or supporters, and no candidate or any of his or her supporters, may among other things use violence, or threaten violence or incite or encourage the use of violence, against anyone on account of his or her political opinions.”
The group further implored independent commissions that “support democracy such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to work hand in glove with other key stakeholders to set up early warning and early response mechanism to detect and respond to cases of political violence.”
“Added to this, the police must also effectively maintain order without fear and bias as enshrined in Section 219 of the constitution. Political parties must also come up with stiffer penalties for supporters who perpetrate violence.”