The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) condemns in the strongest of terms the electoral violence that is taking place in Norton , ahead of the parliamentary by-elections due on 22 October 2016.
The Forum has confirmed that 18 year-old Natasha Bakalia was attacked by ZANU PF youths on 8 October for having a mother who is backing an independent candidate, Temba Mliswa for the Norton constituency. Natasha, who does not belong to any political party was assaulted, demeaned and subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment before being taken to a ZANU –PF base at a car park close to Ngoni Stadium. There she met the Norton Constituency ZANU PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza who initiated such organised violence. Natasha was treated for internal injuries. She still nurses side pains and trauma from the physical and verbal assaults she suffered. Her case was reported at Norton Police Station under case number RB2958846. Natasha’s family has been forced into relocating from her primary residency for safety.
On 7 October in Norton again at Garvilian Farm, Violet Masikinya a member of the Temba Mliswa campaign team, was also attacked for belonging to the Temba Mliswa campaign team by ZANU PF activist, Lovemore Festo, and others, including the assailant’s son, who belong to the Chindedza campaign team. Masikinya alongside her husband, was stoned and assaulted with fists and boots until she passed out. Violet’s case was reported to Norton Police under case number RB 288 7560. She sustained gum, lip and teeth injuries that forced her to seek medical attention.
The Forum is shocked that an aspiring member of Parliament can invest in political violence and intimidation of opponents. Section 67 (1) (b) states that every Zimbabwean has the right to make political choices freely. Subsection 2 further states that every Zimbabwean citizen has the right (a) to form, to join and to participate in the activities of a political party or organisation of their choice and (b) to campaign freely and peacefully for a political party and cause. The Forum calls upon aspiring MP Chindedza and Zanu PF youths to refrain from using violence to achieve their political objectives because it is immoral and illegal. Police are also called to institute professional and competent investigations in line with their mandate to ensure justice takes its course and Zimbabwean citizens enjoy their political rights. The Electoral Act provides that “Immediately after an election is called, the Commissioner-General of Police, in consultation with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, shall establish one or more special police units to investigate cases of politically-motivated violence and intimidation arising from the election.” Subsections 1 and 2 of Section 133j of the Electoral Act also state that “The police officers constituting the special police units established in terms of subsection (1) shall investigate as expeditiously as possible all cases of politically motivated violence and intimidation that are referred to them by the police, a multiparty liaison committee, the Commission or the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission or are otherwise brought to their attention.”
Zimbabwean citizens and human rights defenders are urged to monitor human rights violations before, during and after Norton by-elections and use the law to demand justice and accountability from those seeking to represent them in the Legislature.