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Impunity that encourages violations of human rights
Comment, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
October 29, 2006

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s recent encouragement to the police to deal decisively with Zimbabweans protesting against his government, the reluctance of the police to arrest supporters of the ruling party implicated in the murder of opposition political activists and last weekend’s destruction of MDC supporters’ houses in Chitungwiza and Mabvuku confirm a pattern of impunity that has fuelled human rights violations since 2000.

Last weekend the houses of MDC supporters were destroyed in what the opposition suspects were attacks by Zanu PF intended to send shivers down their spines ahead of yesterday’s rural district council elections.

While in the past presidential powers of amnesty have been used to protect perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against the people of Zimbabwe, in recent years the government has, however, ignored calls for the prosecution of those responsible for torture, abductions and political killings.

High Court Judge, Justice James Devittie ordered that Joseph Mwale and Kainos Tom "Kitsiyatota" Zimunya appear in court by 26 March 2001 to give evidence in the case involving the killings of two MDC activists, but neither appeared in court although police served summons on them. There was no further action by the police, who claimed they could not find them.

Mwale is employed by the Central Intelligence Organisation and is now believed to be in Nyanga after having worked in Chimanimani where he led a campaign to purge the area of opposition activists. At the beginning of October the Office of the Attorney-General ordered the police to arrest Mwale. He is still a free man. There is a definite deliberate attempt by the state to subvert the course of justice.

The people responsible for the "disappearance" of Patrick Nabanyama, a polling agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the June 2000 Parliamentary elections are free men –thanks to their membership of the ruling party.

Wilson "Biggie" Kufa Chitoro, the Mberengwa district chairman of the war veterans' association as well as a senior Zanu PF provincial official, was identified in legal proceedings as the leader of the ''militia'' operating in the Mberengwa West area near Mataga.

Several witnesses in a High Court petition challenging the election in June 2000 of Joram Gumbo as the MP for Mberengwa West, told the court that Chitoro, based at a ''militia'' camp at the Texas Ranch farm, co-ordinated a terror campaign against the opposition in the district.

Chitoro led ''militia'' members on 4 June 2000 when they abducted James and Fainos Zhou from their home in Danga, near Mataga. Fainos died from internal injuries on 9 June 2000 following a brutal assault.

On 6 October 2000 an amnesty was issued and the prosecution of Chitoro and the three other alleged accomplices, on charges of kidnapping and assault was dropped.

Then there is the case of David Stevens, the first commercial farmer to be killed in the wave of political violence following the chaotic land invasions. Stevens was executed by being shot in the face. No one has been brought to justice in connection with the murder.

It is because of such cases that there are growing calls for Mugabe to be brought before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. If Mugabe wanted these crimes against humanity to cease and ordered an end to the torture and murders, the culprits would have. And if he cared for justice, the law would have been allowed to run its course.

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