Chitsunge’s death paints grim picture of Zim rights situation – Amnesty International; calls for ‘impartial, transparent’ investigations

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By Anna Chibamu

INTERNATIONAL human rights watchdog Amnesty International has condemned the murder of a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporter Tinashe Edson Chitsunge on Thursday in a violent attack by suspected Zanu PF members in Harare’s Glen View South area, Tanaka New Stands.

In a press statement Friday, Amnesty International urged the Zimbabwean government to investigate the murder of Chitsunge and take steps to prevent similar incidents in future.

“We call on Zimbabwe’s authorities to promptly launch a thorough, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into Tinashe Chitsunge’s death and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice. Authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies for Tinashe Chitsunge and his family.

“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 freely exercising their human rights and expressing support to political parties of their choice,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Khanyo Farisè said.

Farise further said “The fatal attack on Chitsunge, a CCC activist, paints a grim picture of the human rights environment in Zimbabwe ahead of general elections scheduled for 23 August 2023.

“Such callous acts of violence, which have repeatedly marred Zimbabwe’s political landscape, gravely threaten the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

“Authorities must ensure a peaceful environment before, during and after the elections by fully respecting, protecting, promoting, and fulfilling the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.”

Chitsunge was reportedly stoned to death by suspected Zanu PF activists in Glen View South, Harare, on Thursday.

He was reportedly attacked while trying to flee from a suspected ruling party mob, assaulting opposition activists who had gathered to hold a rally.

Zimbabwe is due to hold its next general election on August 23. The country has a long history of election violence with opposition parties repeatedly accusing Zanu PF of the attacks.

The government on Friday mourned Chitsunge, issuing a stern warning to perpetrators tarnishing the image of the country ahead of the plebiscite.

Meanwhile, the Election Resource Centre, (ERC) in a statement said: “The right to life is sacrosanct and nobody has the right to take it away. Freedom of association and assembly are fundamental rights for anyone in Zimbabwe. The right to own private property is guaranteed in the Constitution and acts of arson as reported in Shurugwi must be condemned.

“With eighteen (18) days to the polls, as ERC, we urge a prompt and thorough investigation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, that will bring to justice the perpetrators of these acts of violence.

“We urge all political leaders to act firmly in preventing, disciplining their members and eliminating political violence and intimidation as these acts undermine the integrity of the election. The ERC calls for an immediate cessation to the increasing levels of election-related violence, inciting and hate speech ahead of the harmonised elections.”