Response to the ZRP’s Call for Peaceful Polls
24 April 2018
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) welcomes the statement by the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s (ZRP) ‘Call for Peaceful Polls’ published in the Herald on 24 April 2018. The Forum acknowledges the setting up of a specialised operation for the 2018 harmonised elections to be used in the monitoring of election related issues. Speaking to the media, Senior Assistant Commissioner E. Makodza, who is leading the operation, emphasised the need for political parties and Zimbabweans in general to desist from violence during the polls. In the article, there is a veiled admission by Commissioner Makodza that in the past, the ZPR has taken political sides. He is reported to have said, “the police are no longer doing business as before…irrespective of your political party, stature in life, colour or gender.” The commitment to a free, fair, credible and peaceful election is commendable.
The statement by Commissioner Makodza is telling and reveals that in the past the ZRP has been selectively applying the law and has also been guilty of gross human rights violations both during and outside elections. Bearing in mind that this has coincided with the recent operationalisation of the long-awaited national peace and reconciliation processes in Zimbabwe, we are of the view that the law must reign. Violence related or not related to elections must not be tolerated. Previously, the ZRP has made some bold pronouncements condemning the practice of demanding voter registration slips or serial numbers from registrants yet violations have continued and the ZRP has done nothing much.
Bold declarations do not comfort the people of Zimbabwe. Actions do. The Forum thus calls on ZRP to support its statements with concrete actions. While political violence is not tolerated, all other actions that infringe on the peaceful and willful participation of the people in the elections must not be tolerated. Those who promote hate speech and intimidate voters must be prosecuted. More so political parties must be made to account for the actions of their members.