Zimbabwe Council of Churches Statement On Murewa North Violence | Full Text
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has expressed concern over recent reports of politically motivated violence against opposition supporters in Murewa North.
In a statement, ZCC also made reference to several other cases of politically motivated violence in 2022 during which opposition supporters were killed.
ZCC urged the police to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of violence and ensure that justice is done. Reads the statement:
1. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) is appalled and expresses deep concern over reports of politically motivated violence, that rocked Bhunu area (Ward 4) in Murehwa North Constituency where a total of 7 people reportedly affiliated to the Opposition Political Party; Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) were brutalized. The circulating social media videos show a group of politically affiliated youths assaulting, humiliating, and victimizing the elderly CCC supporters over allegations of convening an ‘illegal’ political meeting. The Church is concerned by the inhumane treatment and serious injury caused to these elderly citizens of Zimbabwe.
2. This recent incident, while seemingly isolated, signals the deepening and intensification of systemic political violence and intimidation as we approach the 2023 elections. The incident connects with episodes of violence, political victimisation and destruction of property that occurred in Gutu District towards the end of 2022 and those that characterized the 2022 by- elections. Violent cases were reported in Matobo South Ward 2, Kwekwe, Nyatsime, Chire, Nyamaropa, Hurungwe, Gokwe Centre and Gokwe Kabuyini between March and September 2022.
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3. The Church strongly condemns these acts of violence and bad politics. The Church reminds the nation that we are one, we are a family, we are friends, and we are neighbors before we are members of political parties. Our Christian values coin us to live in harmony, in peace, unity and love – respecting the elderly.
4. We remind the nation that two people (Bongeni Ncube and Moreblessing Ali) lost their lives due to political violence related to the 2022 by-elections, tens were injured, and
5. The ZCC seeks to further remind all citizens that the Zimbabwe Constitution and laws allow for plural politics meaning the coexistence and operation of different political parties in Zimbabwe. The law allows political parties to conduct political meetings anywhere and anytime as far as these are conducted as guided by the Law. The same law does not allow political party ownership of some geographical zones or territories; thus, freedom of assembly and association is acknowledged for all without discrimination.
6. Zimbabwean youths should not be fronted by rogue political leaders to incite violence. Youths have a developmental leadership role for our country and are called to adhere to the rule of law, peacefully participate in electoral processes, particularly taking up leadership positions in the upcoming 2023 elections for them to catalyze transformation in political and economic systems of the country.
7. We refer to the ZHOCD Elections We Want (2022) document, and the Ecumenical Election Covenants which call for an election process that is peaceful and non-violent; free, fair, and credible; as well as electing leaders that have the desire, commitment, and capability of driving the socio-economic transformation of the country.
8. We all have the responsibility to contribute to an election process characterized by peace and tolerance before, during and after the elections. Such an electoral process will set the desired foundation for socio-economic transformation that result in the upliftment of our people out of the current excruciating socio-economic hardships.
9. Ours, therefore, is a Call for:
a) The police to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of violence and ensure that justice is delivered to all. We urge the police to provide details of their investigations to the public,
b) The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to make sure that measures are put in place and reinforced to decisively deal with cases of electoral related violence as espoused in the Elections Act. ZEC is further called to allow parties to comply with the best standards for conducting political campaigns including disqualifying potential candidates if proven to have perpetrated political violence,
c) Political parties to investigate, caution, publicly condemn and punish their members who are perpetrating violence. Political party leaders must continue encouraging their supporters to remain peaceful and tolerate political diversity,
d) We encourage all political leaders to desist from barbaric politics, preach the gospel of love for one another, peaceful co-existence and adopt dialogue towards settlement of differences.
e) Convening of an urgent All Stakeholders National Peace Conference where we take stock of the national peace infrastructure, and all political parties sign an Election Peace Pact prepared by the Church working with Chapter 12 Commissions. All political actors and the security sector are encouraged to promote the upholding of individuals freedoms of movement, assembly, association, speech and access to information.
In conclusion, we ardently call for peace and tolerance. As we approach 2023 elections lets all contribute to an environment characterized by freedom to campaign, articulate issues, and participate without fear, favor, and prejudices.