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ZPP statement on recent incidents of political violence
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
September 09, 2011

The Zimbabwe Peace Project is appalled by the ongoing use of violence and brutal attacks on members of the public during national events by organised groups from political parties. What is also shocking has been the failure by the police to respond timeously and arrest all those responsible for causing the violence, which was and continues to be publicised in the media.

Since July this year, ZPP has noticed an ongoing trend of people taking it upon themselves to disrupt important national events. A group of Zanu PF youths violently disrupted a public hearing on the Human Rights Bill, physically attacking a member of parliament and journalists in the process.

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) speaks of free participation in national events where in the preamble the political leaders clearly state that " . . . respecting our constitution, rule of law, national institutions, symbols and events, and the rights of all Zimbabweans to benefit from and participate freely in national programmes and events".

But the recent violence that occurred during the official opening of the fourth session of the 7th parliament by President Robert Mugabe in central Harare is a clear reflection on the lack of political will by some elements in the inclusive government to bring back the rule of law. The opening of Parliament is a national event, and therefore there is no reason why other people should not participate based on political differences. The use of violence at many political events is a calculated attempt to ensure that people are afraid to participate in issues that affect their daily lives.

The violence that rocked Machipisa Shopping Centre in Highfield, has no doubt left many families more impoverished and poorer as those who were affected are mostly women. The women are the ones who have been operating market stalls at Mukambo Market striving to feed their families day in and day out.

This kind of violence does not emerge in a vacuum. It is a well orchestrated plan to intimidate the people of Zimbabwe through the use of organised groups such as Zanu PF's Chipangano in Mbare and the various youth militia groups spread across the country.

These violent attacks must not be downplayed as mere episodes in a game of tit-for-tat between Zanu PF and the MDC-T supporters. There is absolutely no justification for deliberate and violent attacks on innocent civilians by organised and known institutions of violence in Zimbabwe.

Police officers have failed to arrest not even a single culprit since the events of July 23 on the flimsy excuse that they were not prepared. This has clearly led to the entrenchment of the culture of impunity among most and would be perpetrators of political violence. ZPP calls on the police to fulfill their constitutional mandate in ensuring that all the perpetrators of violence are brought to justice.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project appeals to the leaders of political parties in this country to go beyond just making public statements denouncing violence and rather they should take sterner actions against their party members responsible for spearheading political violence. We strongly believe that it is within the power of the politicians and Zimbabweans at large to contribute to stopping the on-going violence.

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