By Leopold Munhende l Chief Correspondent
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BRITISH parliamentarians have warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa against his continued clampdown on dissent, and disregard for human rights, saying the world was watching.
Mnangagwa’s human rights record took centre stage in the House of Lords Friday where Lord Zac Goldsmith revealed it could be on the agenda when King Charles III meets South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa next month.
The meeting, King Charles III’s first State visit announced by Buckingham Palace since his rise to the throne after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, will come at a time opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists have spent over 100 days in remand prison.
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“My Lords, the Minister (for Africa) will be aware that opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole have now been detained without bail for 142 days in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and paraded before court in leg irons; that only a week ago, Bulawayo MP Jasmine Toffa was violently assaulted as part of an attack on CCC activists; and that across Zimbabwe political violence is raging in the lead-up to the 2023 general elections,” said Lord Jonathan Oates.
“Will he join me in calling on the Zimbabwe Government to end this political violence now? Will he join me also in making clear to Zanu PF officials and Ministers, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe prison officers that the world is watching and holds them accountable for the safety and security of all Zimbabwe’s citizens?”
Sikhala and Sithole are part of Nyatsime 16, a grouping of opposition activists arrested following the murder of their colleague Moreblessing Ali by a Zanu PF member.
They were charged with inciting public violence and have not been released since June.
Toffa, on the other hand, was attacked by Zanu PF youths in Insiza alongside other CCC supporters and was left injured, having to be hospitalised.
“The world is watching and of course the UK is deeply concerned by the challenging human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Political parties, journalists and opponents should be able to operate without any form of harassment,” said Lord Zac Goldsmith.
“We monitor all individual cases, including those that he mentioned, such as that of Toffa. All political violence is concerning and violence against women in politics is of particular concern, particularly in Zimbabwe.
“There is no doubt that South Africa, and indeed southern African countries, not least through SADC, have a particular ability to influence Zimbabwe, far more so than we can.
“I am sure that the topic we are discussing today will be on the agenda when the visit happens,” said Goldsmith in response to Baroness Kate Hoey, who had asked if Ramaphosa’s visit presented an opportunity to at least influence free and fair elections.”
According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), ruling Zanu PF and police have ‘subjected citizens to gross human rights violations.’
The two accounted for 79% of human rights violations in August this year.
“The majority of human rights cases were perpetrated by the Zanu PF party, responsible for 51% of the violations, followed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) at 28%.
“The general citizens populated the highest percentage of victims, 89%, and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters followed with 11%. Law enforcement agents and the ruling party have collectively subjected the citizens of Zimbabwe to gross human rights violations,” reads the ZPP report.