Violence: Judge warns political parties

…as CCC MPs, activists languish in prison



The Judiciary, long accused by the opposition as political and targeting opponents of the ruling Zanu PF party, has warned activists against engaging in violence saying the courts stand ready to deal with perpetrators who will disturb the country’s peace ahead of the elections due in August.

The warning comes amid a rise in politically-motivated violence and arrests critics say mainly targets opposition political actors belonging to the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) including Members of Parliament and the elderly.

Several MPs belonging to the CCC are in the dock for different allegations with Zengeza West lawmaker Job Sikhala clocking over 200 days in remand prison.

Last week, Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya was arrested together with fellow legislator Costa Machingauta.

Twenty-three other CCC activists were arrested at the same Budiriro house and remain in remand prison.

The opposition has blamed the police, the judiciary and other arms of government of working with the ruling party, an accusation denied.

Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese, said the law will be observed against those engaged in violence.

“Any political contestation among political parties must be done within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe. Political violence has no space in a democratic country,” Makonese said.

“The courts are ready to deal decisively with those minded to cause violence, chaos or any other conduct designed to disturb the peace in the country. Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy and as such elections must be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere. All members of the public who shall violate these laws of the country will only have themselves to blame,” he warned.

The opposition CCC has argued that the judiciary has failed to show independence mainly on political matters and has been consistent in denying those accused of political crimes bail which they say is a constitutional right.

In the case of Sikhala however, the government has denied any interference with the judiciary saying the outspoken legislator was a victim of his own making by violating previous bail conditions.

Meanwhile, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission has cautioned political parties against use of hate speech that has the potential to cause violence.

NPRC spokesperson Obert Gutu said campaigns ahead of the elections must be done in a peaceful manner.

“We would like to call upon all political stakeholders to appreciate the importance of peace and tolerance and those campaigning should desist from using language that is hateful and disturbs peace,” Gutu said.

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