By Alois Vinga
RIGHTS watchdog, Amnesty International, has warned Zimbabwean authorities against the issuance of inflammatory statements inciting political violence amid fears of a bloodbath ahead of harmonised elections this year.
The remarks come in response to a viral video showing a group of suspected ruling Zanu PF party supporters assaulting elderly people in Ward 4 of Bhunu Village, Murehwa North, a rural district of Marondera East.
In the short clip, old men and women can be seen being assaulted and interrogated for attending a political gathering for the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC).
Despite top ruling party officials from Mashonaland East issuing a statement distancing their supporters from the violence allegations, Amnesty International contends that the response by the authorities does not resolve the crisis at hand, but instead only worsens it.
“The Zimbabwean authorities must take all necessary steps to prevent acts of politically motivated violence and refrain from issuing inflammatory statements that could incite similar attacks or deter people from expressing support to political parties of their choice,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, Flavia Mwangoya, said Tuesday.
“This callous, politically motivated attack against elderly people who had simply attended a gathering for a political opposition party is outrageous.
She said such cruel acts of violence, which have repeatedly marred Zimbabwe’s political landscape in the past, gravely threaten the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
“These attacks are clearly intended to harass and intimidate members of political opposition in the months leading up to Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections and could have a chilling effect throughout the country,” she added.