Army shooting condemned

HARARE - The killing of seven people by soldiers on Tuesday after election results protests by the opposition has been described as “barbaric” and that such actions have no place in a new Zimbabwe.

Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe said this barbaric act is not only unlawful but is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances as there can never be any justification for extra-judicial killings.

“The army is there to protect the state against external threats and must only be deployed by a sitting president, who is then accountable for such actions. Where instances of public unrest occur, it is the role of the Police to manage them. The expectation being that the Police are trained to manage crowds rather than killing the very citizens which a state is obliged to protect,” ROHR said.

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said it is unfortunate and very sad that the military intervened by using live ammunition on unarmed civilians.

“They could have used rubber bullets and avoided losing any blood. While this was happening the whole world was watching as they have journalists on the ground covering the elections.

“International journalists were also beaten as they carried their cameras and this is not good at all for the country’s image,” said Machisa.

He called for citizen’s rights to be respected. “The Constitution gives citizens the right to demonstrate.”

Machisa said the crisis in Zimbabwe does not warrant loss of life.

“We need to stop violence and bloodshed, hence find other ways to reach to each other.”

Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said the ruling party had managed to maintain a façade of civility until they unleashed the military on unarmed civilians.

“It changes the texture and stature of the electoral process. In addition, it plays out in the open against the Sadc/AU reports which had already endorsed the process.

“But the whole process shows that Zimbabwe is a heavily militarised state, which responds disproportionately to slight irritation, in doing so it leaves the footprint of legitimacy hanging and lingering on the electoral outcome,” said Moyo.

Teachers have also strongly condemned the fatal shooting of unarmed civilian protesters by soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army in Harare, using live ammunition, on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), arguably one of the biggest trade unions for educators in the country blamed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Zimbabwe National Army for the incident that led to the death of seven people.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe told the Daily News on Sunday: “We unreservedly condemn the senseless, callous, brutal and barbaric gunning down of civilians by the army a few days ago.

“That must never be seen again. The culprits must be punished and the victims compensated. Surely justice must be done. If Zec is really sincere they must take full responsibility for what happened.

“We cannot celebrate a peaceful election that ends with several coffins. Never. We join the affected families in mourning the departed”.

Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) has denounced all forms of violence by protesters and State security over election results as it considers life as sacrosanct, never to be shed for political power, or any other reason.

“There is nothing at all that justifies the wanton destruction of council property, in particular the cement benches built along Julius Nyerere Way and Jason Moyo Avenue over electoral disputes.

“The reality of the situation is that after all the violence; Zimbabweans will be Zimbabweans, living in the same country, needing the same basic essential services like water, safety, security, shelter, and equal opportunities.

“Given these latest developments, and with the sad, unjustified loss of lives, the Government of Zimbabwe has a constitutional duty to protect and defend the rights of the citizens.

“The opposition should rein in their members by preaching peace and unity to minimise conflict in the country. The destruction of property by protesters is unwarranted, and illegal.

“Genuine protests should be held in peace without infringing on the rights of other citizens.

“Already there is structural violence where the suffering masses have to struggle to access their money from banks, there are water shortages in 55 percent of households in Harare, refuse collection is almost non-existent in most communities, unemployed youths and adults are idle, and the life of the majority is in destitution. The government has a duty to provide all these for its citizens.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the violence divides the nation further and confirms that electoral related violence is a curse in Zimbabwe politics.

“It is also a sign of people who have had enough of the system and feel that their dignity is violated as they participate in elections that do not give them desired outcomes.

“The violence by the protesters is bad and shows lack of peaceful leadership by the opposition. At the same time there was no need for the military to be deployed to quell civilian violence. Police should have been allowed to handle this.

“It was an act of cowardice for military commanders to order armed soldiers on the streets to quell a civilian action.

“It was further an act of cowardice for the deployed soldiers to open fire on fleeing demonstrators. This is bad and depressing,” said Saungweme.

He added that this eschewed the peaceful environment we had for the past eight months.

“It’s important for whoever wins to reach out to the other to foster cohesion. But the whole violence shows lack of leadership among the two main political party presidents (Nelson) Chamisa and (Emmerson) Mnangagwa.”

Deputy president of MDC led by Thokozani Khupe, Obert Gutu said: “Violence, of whatever nature and by whomsoever, should be condemned unreservedly. State power should be exercised with restraint and circumspection and in equal measure, political parties should always urge their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully when they are engaging in demonstrations.”

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