Zec acts on Bikita violence

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\n HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has ordered the human rights commission and police to submit reports on the gruesome violence that erupted in Bikita West ahead of a by-election in the constituency today.

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\n Zec’s chairperson Rita Makarau said the reports will guide the electoral body in taking action over the matter.

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\n On Tuesday night, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s candidate Madock Chivasa and his elections agent Thomas Mudzamiri were brutally attacked by alleged Zanu PF yobs at Tongonya Shopping Centre and had to be hospitalised.

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\n Makarau told the Daily News that Zec was not turning a blind eye on the incident.

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\n “We got a report of what happened and our constituency election officer held a multi-party liaison meeting yesterday (Thursday) which was attended by the victims and other candidates,” she said.

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\n “It’s not true that we have turned a blind eye. We have also written to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to give us a report on the situation, since they are also on the ground. And we have also written to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for a report,” she added.

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NCA candidate Madock Chivasa (left) and his election agent nurse wounds after a brutal attack by alleged Zanu PF yobs prior to the Bikita West by-election. 

“We are waiting for these reports, which we are expecting any minute from now. These reports will enable us to determine whether we should go ahead with the election tomorrow (today). We will be guided by these reports on how to proceed. In the case that we did not get the reports, in time then we will depend on our election officers,” Makarau said.

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\n Observers reported that guns were fired during the violent attack on Chivasa, and Mudzamiri.

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\n The pair are said to have sustained injuries during the attack.

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\n This comes as peace advocacy and election observer organisations have rung alarm bells over the violence disturbing the pre-election processes in Bikita West, with reports of gunshots days before the by-election tomorrow.

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\n The Civil rights groups called for investigations to be instituted and prosecutions of perpetrators to take place before the violence sets a bad precedent for the 2018 general election.

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\n The Bikita West seat fell vacant after the jailing of Munyaradzi Kereke who was legislator for the area.

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\n Yesterday, western embassies in Harare condemned the violence saying it marred the lead-up to the by-election risks disenfranchising voters.

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\n “The heads of mission of the European Union and Switzerland express their deep concern at reports of intimidation and violence against political candidates in the run up to the Bikita West by election,” a joint statement by the European Union (EU) Delegation, the heads of  mission of EU member States in Harare and the head of mission of Switzerland said.

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\n “The heads of mission note the obligation of the authorities to protect the democratic rights of all citizens.

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\n “It is the responsibility of the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that justice is served,” they said.

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\n “The heads of mission of the EU and Switzerland urge all parties to respect democratic principles and contribute to a peaceful election.”

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\n Villagers are set to vote today in the country’s closest by-election yet, with observers warning that the tight race could lead to violence after the polls.

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\n United Kingdom (UK) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, tweeted her concern.

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\n “Concerning reports of violence or intimidation in Bikita West ahead of by-election. Monitoring closely @euinzim @usembassyharare,” she said.

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\n “The UK is deeply concerned.  UK election observers will be on the ground from Friday (yesterday) @UKinZimbabwe.”

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\n EU head of delegation Philippe Van Damme also shared his thoughts on Twitter.

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\n “Violence should be condemned loud and clear by all participants in this by-election and by their respective party leaders,” he said.

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\n Chivasa, NCA’s spokesperson, is part of six candidates that have successfully filed their papers at the Nomination Court that sat at the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court that include Zanu PF Women’s League provincial executive member Beauty Chabaya, Kudakwashe Gopo of the Joice Mujuru-led ZPF, Terence Makumbo of Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe (PDZ), independent candidate Innocent Muzvimbiri and former BikitaWest legislator Heya Shoko, who will also stand as an independent candidate.

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