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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Disturbances of COPAC outreach meetings: A manifestation of the legacy of impunity
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 22, 2010

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Coordinating Committee, having met on the 22nd of September 2010 to discuss the recent disturbances of the constitutional reform outreach process, strongly condemns the violent disruptions of the meetings held in Harare from the 18th to the 20th of September by suspected ZANU PF supporters and the ensuing lethargy by the police in stopping the violence and apprehending perpetrators.

    The Harare disruptions give credence to earlier allegations of intimidation and violence in rural areas particularly in the Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces. As opposed to rural areas, urban areas witnessed resistance to choreographed interventions by participants resulting in the use of violence to disrupt proceedings. The disruptions, which were reminiscent of those at the First All Stakeholders Conference, show a clear thread of bad faith and deliberate attempts to ensure that ZANU PF has things its way or no way at all. These acts of malice, which are outra vires the GPA, have consistently littered attempts to implement the political agreement.

    Contrary to Article 18 (e) of the GPA which clearly states that Parties to the agreement shall, 'take measures necessary to ensure that the structures and institutions that they control are not engaged in the perpetration of violence', it is clear that ZANU PF's war machinery is still intact and that the Inclusive Government has not succeeded in dismantling the infrastructure that was in active use in 2008. ZANU PF remains insincere and continues to instigate violence against innocent civilians. Prior to the onset of the constitution making process, war veterans and youth militias were seemingly hibernating, waiting for reactivation during their self prescribed time. Evidently, the groups enjoy impunity and protection from the security apparatus and as such, are impervious to state prosecution and apprehension which is why they continue to be a scourge in key national and political processes.

    The absence of a neutral, professional and non-partisan security apparatus communicates the wrong message that violence is acceptable and tolerated. This legacy of impunity is poisonous and should be stopped by apprehending and prosecuting the culprits. Article 18 (c) of the GPA which states that, 'The government shall apply the laws of the land fully and impartially in bringing all perpetrators of politically motivated violence to book' yet the inclusive government continues to ignore this section of the agreement. By allowing perpetrators to instigate violence without the courts and law enforcement agents putting in place deterrent measures is tantamount to accepting and normalising violence and impunity.

    Racism, which is outlawed in the Zimbabwean constitution as well as regional and international conventions clearly showed its existence in Zimbabwe with non-black citizens being ejected from meetings and harassed for contributing to the constitution making process in the full glare of COPAC officials and the police. The high levels of intolerance and racial discrimination, exhibited over the weekend are total betrayal of what our fathers and fore-fathers fought against during the liberation struggle. The fact that this is practiced by some liberation veterans clearly shows that some of them were simply fighting to become the monsters they defeated. This brazen apartheid and Rhodesian type discrimination must stop.

    The disturbances of the outreach process and the unprofessional and partisan conduct of the police proved false the unqualified and unjustified statement by co- Minister of Home Affairs, Ms. Theresa Makone that the Zimbabwean police are now professional and non-partisan. It is also ironic that while ZANU PF supporters were disrupting a national process, the police chose to arrest Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Vice Organising Secretary for Harare North, Edmore Manyofa in Greystone Park rather than the ZANU PF supporters who were bussed from other areas to cause commotion and disturbances. Under Article 13 of the GPA, parties agreed to ensure that; 'all state organs and institutions strictly observe the principles of the Rule of Law and remain non-partisan and impartial'. Despite assertions by Minister Makone, the police in Zimbabwe remain appendages of ZANU PF, defeating the role of law enforcement agents who are expected to protect innocent civilians at the same time observing the rule of law.

    Over the past few months, talk has been rife by the principles to the GPA and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) that Zimbabwe should go to the elections in 2011. It is apparent that if elections are held under the prevailing toxic political environment, the results will be predetermined and the process will fall short of the minimum requirements for free, fair and democratic elections. The country will likely slide back to the period after the March 2008 elections when the country witnessed high levels of intimidation and violence perpetrated by para-military groups and ZANU PF supporters against perceived opponents. As in the case of the constitutional outreach meetings, the police did not arrest ZANU PF supporters instead, victims were arrested and regarded as perpetrators.

    In light of the above, The Coalition demands the following from the inclusive government;

    1. Condemnation of politically motivated violence and the reigning in of errant individuals who intimidate and violate the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans regardless of race, creed, political affiliation or sex
    2. Castigation of any acts of racism or statements which encourage discrimination on any grounds
    3. Immediate disbanding of para-military groups which are responsible for the instigation of violence
    4. Investigation by the Ministry of Home Affairs into the violent disruptions with the view of apprehending perpetrators and disciplining law enforcement agents who defeated the course of justice and neglected their duties
    5. Full implementation of the GPA particularly but not limited to;

    a) Professionalization of state organs and institutions
    b) Observance of the rule of law
    c) Bringing to book of perpetrators of politically motivated violence
    d) Upholding the right of Zimbabweans to make a constitution for themselves and by themselves.

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