Election Code of Conduct needs legal teeth: ZPP

HARARE - The signing of a Code of Conduct by political parties to stem violence is useless unless it is backed by a legal framework, the Zimbabwe Peace Project has said.

Sekai Holland, the minister of Peace and Reconciliation this week announced Zanu PF and the two MDC formations had signed a Code of Conduct that will see political party leaders being held accountable for their supporters’ violent conduct.

ZPP said in its latest bulletin that with a referendum and elections just around the corner, the move to introduce a Code of Conduct “is a move in the right direction towards ending the culture of violence and impunity.”

“However, the ZPP remains very concerned on whether the code will make any difference to stem political violence because it does not have legal teeth,” notes the report.

In its report, ZPP says police should be given space to exercise their duties.

“The role of the police and courts should not be undermined when dealing with perpetrators of political violence,” the report says.

“It is ZPP’s view that all perpetrators of violence should be brought to book. The code partially tries to deal with issues of political violence by introducing inter-party and stakeholder committees to deal with political violence.”

Late last year Mugabe signed into law the Electoral Amendment Act, which created an Electoral Court to deal with political violence and intimidation.

Under the Electoral Act candidates found guilty of perpetrating violence will automatically drop out of a given plebiscite ZPP says the politicians must walk the talk.
“It’s the ZPP’s strong view that the realisation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, very much depends on the willingness of those in power to enforce implementation,” ZPP said in the bulletin.

“Unless there is change in the political and democratic culture in Zimbabwe the culture of violence and impunity will prevail for a very long time to come.”

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