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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
calls on Zimbabwe to respect political rights following arrest of
rights lawyer and parliamentary candidate Arnold Tsunga
Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
July 22, 2013
View this statement on
the SALC website
Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) condemns the arrest
of MDC parliamentary candidate Arnold Tsunga and 50 supporters on
20 July 2013, and the banning of a political rally in Harare.
and denial by Zimbabwean police of peaceful political gatherings;
the arbitrary arrest of electoral candidates; and the intimidation
of Zimbabwean citizens violates the rights of freedom of association,
assembly and expression of Zimbabweans, members of the political
opposition and human rights defenders.
Section 67 of
the Zimbabwean Constitution
explicitly provides for every Zimbabwean citizen to participate
in the activities of a political party of their choice; "to
campaign freely and peacefully for a political party"; "to
participate in peaceful political activity"; and "to participate,
individually or collectively … in peaceful activities to influence,
challenge or support the policies of the Government".
The uneven application
of Zimbabwe's security laws requiring that political gatherings
or marches be sanctioned by the police is tantamount to interference
in the electoral process. SALC therefore calls on the authorities
responsible for the oversight of activities during the election
period to ensure that the law is not manipulated, abused or applied
in manner that offends the Zimbabwean Constitution.
Director of SALC said, "In the build-up to Zimbabwe's presidential
elections, Zimbabwe must commit itself to the creation and maintenance
of an environment conducive to political freedom; one in which no
political party, electoral candidate or individual is prevented
from campaigning on the basis of political opinion or affiliation.
All voices are protected and must be allowed to be heard."
Failure to ensure
that basic safeguards to protect fundamental rights are in place
threatens the credibility of the upcoming elections and brings into
question Zanu-PF's commitment to free and fair elections. "It
is imperative that the Government take steps to assuage voters'
fears of violence and intimidation, in order for Zimbabwe's election
to be legitimate," said Fritz.
In light of
the above, SALC calls on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Electoral
Observers deployed by the Southern African Development Community
and African Union to investigate and address the recent incarceration
of Mr Tsunga and the cancelling of the political rally in Harare,
and to ensure that the rights of all stakeholders are respected
and protected during this important time.
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