PEACE building rights’ group, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, has commended the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for establishing special courts that deal with cases of politically-motivated violence before, during and after the July 30 elections.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), however, quickly noted the need for multi-stakeholder participation such as the church, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) among others to deal with the vice.
The JSC has designated 57 magistrates to try cases of politically motivated violence in the country’s 10 provinces.
In a June 1 notice in the Extraordinary Government Gazette, JSC chairperson Justice Luke Malaba said this was in line with section 133 (3) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).
“Heal Zimbabwe notes that the deployment of trial magistrates is a positive step that will ensure that victims of political violence have access to justice.
“If the plan is well adhered to, it will help reduce cases of political violence that have been fuelled by a culture of impunity especially within local communities,” the HZT said in a statement.
The country’s elections have been marred by political violence, with the 2008 poll cited as the worst after leaving over 200 MDC-T supporters dead and several thousand displaced and injured.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised a violence free poll, while police have also set an election command unit to tackle election-related violence cases ahead.
Senior police officer Erasmus Makodza heads the new election command within Zimbabwe’s police force.
Makodza recently said perpetrators of politically-motivated violence risk spending up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
“However, it is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that appointing trial magistrates ahead of the elections alone is not enough. Addressing political violence requires multiple involvement of stakeholders such as the church, civil society, independent commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), ZHRC and political parties,” Heal Zimbabwe added.
“In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the JSC to promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice in Zimbabwe in compliance with section 190 (2) of the Constitution.”