HARARE – Government must set up special courts to deal with political violence ahead of the 2018 election, the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said.
This comes amid rising concern over inter and intra-party violence.
It is also on the back of an attack of PDP’s youth secretary for defence and security Tarisai Musurudzwa by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
He was attacked while coming from a belated Africa Day celebration rally in Mabvuku.
“Zanu PF always relies on violence; such levels of intolerance have no place in a modern society….there must be a mechanism to deal with violence, including decentralised electoral courts of violence,” PDP said.
“The signs are clear that Zanu PF will once again use violent tactics in the next election,” it said.
President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, has become a pariah in the West.
The 93-year-old is blamed for ruining a once-prosperous country through human rights abuses and violent, rigged elections.
“In terms of Section 67 Constitution, all citizens have the right, to form and join political parties, to campaign freely and peacefully for their political parties, to gather peacefully to influence, challenge or support political causes. Zanu PF is therefore in violation of this provision; the law must descend on the perpetrators,” PDP argued.
Addressing his supporters at the Mabvuku rally, Biti said only a transformational democratic development State can assist in dealing with the current problems faced by Zimbabweans.
The former Finance minister said this model provides a framework which will ensure growth and development is even and inclusive, adding that the government needs to implement the law of devolution, which is provided for in terms of the Constitution.
The law of devolution stipulates that there should be a provincial council for each of the country’s provinces, consisting of governors and mayors among other officials and will be responsible for the social and economic development of the province.
Recently, civil society organisations raised concern over the escalating political violence after skirmishes erupted among Zanu PF members in Bulawayo.
In two separate statements, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) criticised the ruling party members over the violence.
“Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) condemns all forms of violence and calls on political parties to reign in their supporters and ensure peaceful proceedings of party meetings,” the organisation said.
The organisation further demanded all political parties to observe peace as the country hurtles towards next year’s elections.
“…ZPP impresses on all political parties to avoid statements that could incite violence. Political leaders influence opinions and actions of many citizens. Reckless utterances and verbal threats may lead to unpredicted actions with dire effects on the populace.
“ZPP is worried that unless political parties reign in their supporters and the language they use in such incidents …will mar the environment of the 2018 elections,” ZPP said.
On the other hand, ZimRights expressed concern over the levels of inter-party and intra-party violence around the country.
“ZimRights urges political parties to nip such violent tendencies in the bud as the country faces an election campaign season ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections. Violence at all times is condemnable and should not be tolerated whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.
“Zimbabwe’s political environment has been regularly marred by violence which makes it crucial for any signs of the resurgence of violence to be taken seriously,” ZimRights said.