Govt’s denial of army abuses ‘incredible’ – State commission

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By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has conceded that the military beat up civilians in several high-density areas in the country.

According the statutory body, refusal by the authorities to accept responsibility posed the danger of the soldiers not being accountable to anyone.

In a statement released Friday, the ZHRC called for prompt investigation and prosecution by the relevant authorities if they were convinced that the “assailants were impostors and/or rogue elements acting without official deployment”, saying the denial of the army’s involvement was “incredible”.

“The Commission dispatched monitoring and investigative teams to assess the situation in Kuwadzana and Warren Park in Harare as well as in Chitungwiza following these reports and confirmed that indeed members of the public were being assaulted by people in military uniforms who were moving around the suburbs in military trucks,” the ZHRC said.

There have been several reports of residents in areas such as Kuwadzana, Dzivarasekwa and Chitungwiza being severely assaulted by soldiers, especially at night spots but the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Government have vehemently denied any deployment of the military.

The ZHRC, however, said although there was “general calmness” on election day, the violence that cost the lives of at least seven people was the most disturbing post-election incident.

The commission said it was receiving complaints of intimidation, harassment and threats to citizens perceived to have voted for the opposition, especially those who acted as polling agents for opposition candidates or stood as parliamentary or council candidates in both urban and rural communities.

“From the investigations undertaken to date, the ZHRC has established that there is hunting down and harassment of polling agents for independent candidates and opposition political parties, resulting in bodily and emotional harm as well as damage to property.

“Some of the victims, including women, have fled their homes for fear of political persecution,” the ZHRC noted.

The commission also confirmed the burning of the homestead of MDC Alliance polling agent David Chimanga in Mutoko East Constituency, adding it had since dispatched an investigative team to find out more details and help the family get appropriate support and redress.