Church condemns police brutality

HARARE - The Church has condemned the police for its use of force in crushing Wednesday’s demonstration by the MDC youths describing its heavy-handedness as irrational and bad for upholding national peace and democracy at large.

Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD) leader Bishop Ancelimo Magaya had no kind words for the police and labelled Wednesday’s behaviour as barbaric and an act of repression.

“What is wrong with citizens expressing their democratic rights by making their demands on an election issue?

“Where else can they express displeasure on electoral issues? This matter is beyond the police, they have nothing to do with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and political parties, they should have just let people demonstrate, does that harm anyone?” Magaya asked rhetorically.

“As matters stand, police are now the instigators of violence and not enforcers of law because the demonstrators were within their constitutional rights to demonstrate and the police failed in their duty to protect these citizens.”

On Wednesday, MDC youths staged a demonstration against Zec demanding that the national elections management body introduce electoral reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

Heavily-armed police crushed the demo by beating protesters and ordinary people going about their business before indiscriminately firing tear gas and using water cannons to clear the city.

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba had told the Daily News that they had not okayed the demo.

“The response by the police spokesperson that ZRP had not cleared the demonstration is an age-old flimsy excuse.

“Police should always be impartial but we have witnessed demonstrations by disgruntled Zanu PF members proceed unperturbed, even where clashes between rival factions were imminent. It is now clear that there is one law for the rest of the nation and another special one for those deemed to be pro the ruling party and this is unacceptable.

“In the same breadth an opposition member’s car was burnt in Kuwadzana and the police do not seem to have appetite to investigate nor descend with similar gusto on such because the victim is politically incorrect in their view. What a shame!” Magaya said.

Charamba told State media that police investigations were underway to establish how the MDC car was torched.

“Two unknown people were seen at a car park at Kuwadzana Shopping Centre and immediately after they left the security guard saw the car, an Isuzu single cab; white in colour registration number ADA 1562, catch fire.

“A report was made at ZRP Kuwadzana and police attended the scene and called the Fire Brigade but the vehicle had already been damaged. The value of the car is $10 000.

“After investigations we will be in the position to ascertain the perpetrators and the motive,” said Charamba.

Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, who is also the Home Affairs minister, said it was an inside job.

“I really think it was an inside job to get attention and a trick by a fracturing party that is facing loss in the next elections,” said Chombo.

Magaya said the Church had a duty to promote peace and condemn violence.

“The Church cannot keep quiet when citizens’ lives are put at risk and threatened by none other than the State police. It is for the same reason that the Church launched a Christian Vote campaign last month and amongst the values we are rooting for is, non-violence.

“We need to exorcise this demon of bloodletting and violence and realise politics can be clean and progressive as opposed to what some of our liberators would have us believe.

“When will this nation, its people particularly, enjoy peace to vote freely, to ask complain or even demonstrate on anything irregular without being vilified?” asked Magaya.

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