By Staff Reporter
Human rights organisations have condemned threats by Zanu PF’s national political commissar, retired army boss Engelbert Rugeje, describing them as anti-peace and dampening the prospects of a free election.
Rugeje, addressing a party meeting last week in Gutu, said people should remember the violence which followed the 2008 elections which left hundreds dead, according to opposition, as the country gears for another watershed election late this year.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said the remarks were in conflict with the gospel of peace and unity that president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been preaching since he took office two months ago.
“ZimRights unreservedly condemns the statements by the Zanu-Pf National Commissar, Rtd. Lt. General Engelbert Rugeje in which he appeared to intimidate people during an address in Gutu in Masvingo province ahead of the 2018 elections,” said the organisation in a statement on Tuesday.
Rugeje joins other senior ruling party officials such as minister of state affairs for Masvingo Province Josiah Hungwe and party secretary for Higher education Christopher Mutsvangwa in perpetuating the legacy of militarization of elections.
The rights civic organisation said it has become pertinent for the president and other relevant bodies to set the record straight on military role in the country’s elections.
“We urge President Emmerson Mnangagwa to publicly chastise his officials and make them refrain from making such threats,” ZimRights added.
“Equally, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) are urged to unanimously and without delay condemn such malpractices.”
Heal Zimbabwe weighed in saying Rugeje’s statements were “criminal” and “irresponsible” and have provided a reason for perpetrators of political violence to continue abusing other people’s rights.