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condemns politicisation of food aid
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
February 09, 2007
Election Support Network (ZESN) strongly condemns the threats allegedly
made by president of the Council of Chiefs, Chief Fortune Charumbira,
to expel villagers who support the opposition and to withhold food
aid from them. These threats are blatantly illegal.
In October 2006
Chief Charumbira reportedly told villagers in Masvingo at a function
organised by the United Nations to mark World Food Day: "The
position is that only ZANU PF supporters will be allowed to reside
in my area. I want my headmen to take note of this position. If
you are an opposition supporter this is the time to pack your bags.
I don't know where you will go because other chiefs will take
the same stance."
latest threats were reportedly made early this month ahead of the
Chiredzi South by-election scheduled for Saturday the 17 February
2007. They were made at a ZANU PF rally held at Chilonga Primary
School in Chiredzi South, which was attended by a ZESN Officer on
the 2 February 2007.
with utter dismay that at this rally Chief Charumbira apparently
instructed chiefs to campaign for the ruling ZANU PF party, adding
that as traditional leaders they were supposed to know 'which
side their bread was buttered'. He also ordered traditional
leaders in rural Chiredzi South constituency to deny state supplied
food aid to opposition supporters. The Chief also instructed fellow
traditional leaders in the area to herd their subjects to the polling
stations to ensure a victory for ZANU PF victory in the by - election.
The alleged statements by Chief Charumbira are unconstitutional,
illegal and in gross violation of human rights. These statements
violate the following laws and regional and international standards.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe section 23 protects all citizens against
discrimination on the various grounds, one of which is political
opinion. It is also a serious criminal offence in terms of section
134 of the Electoral
Act to use undue influence to induce or compel any person to
vote or refrain from voting. The Administrative Justice Act provides
in s 3 that administrative authorities have a duty to act lawfully,
reasonably and in a fair manner. The SADC Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections require political tolerance and freeness
and fairness in the electoral process. The International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights provides in Article 24 that every
citizen has the right and opportunity to have access, on general
terms of equality, to public service in his country, without distinction
on the ground of political opinion and without unreasonable restrictions.
Finally, in more general terms, the alleged actions on the part
of Chief Charumbira undermine the efforts to achieve genuine democracy
in Zimbabwe, one of the hallmarks of which is political tolerance
for opposing political views.
ZESN therefore urges the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and
the relevant law enforcement agents to ensure that the laws of Zimbabwe
are respected and that all players abide by the law irrespective
of their political affiliation. As for this matter we ask the ZEC
to counteract such threats to ensure that voters are assured of
the right to make political choices freely and that their ballots
will remain secret.
The network is distressed by the fact that chiefs and headmen have
abandoned political neutrality in the performance of their duties
in their communities as already highlighted in our reports and statements
on the Rural District Council elections of October 2006.
ZESN also condemns all political traditional leaders and other political
players who are taking advantage of the current economic hardships
and using food as a "vote buying" tool.
We take this opportunity to call for a peaceful election in the
Chiredzi South parliamentary by-elections.
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