ZHRC blasts 'rogue soldiers'

 

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said there have been arbitrary assaults of urbanites in various high density suburbs of Harare and Chitungwiza, despite denials from government.

In its post-election report, ZHRC said its investigation teams witnessed blatant beatings of civilians by soldiers.

“The commission dispatched monitoring and investigative teams to assess the situation in Kuwadzana and Warren Park in Harare as well as in Chitungwiza following these reports and confirmed that indeed members of the public were being assaulted by people in military uniforms who were moving around the suburbs in military trucks,” reads part of the report.

“Of concern to the commission is the fact that there seems to be no office taking responsibility over the deployment of soldiers into communities and streets.”

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and government have strenuously denied this deployment.

ZDF spokesperson, Overson Mugwisi, was quoted recently denying the involvement of soldiers in the alleged harassment.

Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo also unequivocally denied these reports when he addressed foreign observers and diplomats in Harare recently.

According to the ZHRC, the denials pose an even bigger danger to communities as it appears that the “soldiers” beating up civilians are not accountable to anyone.

“The commission would have expected prompt investigation and prosecution by the relevant authorities if it is true that the assailants are impostors and/or rogue elements acting without official deployment,” ZHRC said.

The commission also noted that even after the results of the elections were announced, complaints of intimidation and harassment were being received from people being persecuted for voting in favour of the opposition.

Complaints received by the commission were also from those being harassed for being opposition polling agents or standing as opposition candidates in both urban and rural communities.

From its investigations, ZHRC observed the persecuted of opposition members, resulting in bodily and emotional harm as well as damage to property.

“Some of the victims, including women, have fled their homes for fear of political persecution. The commission has received and confirmed a report on the burning of the homestead of an MDC Alliance polling agent David Chimanga in Mutoko East constituency, and has since dispatched an investigative team to find out more details and assist the family to get appropriate support and redress,” ZHRC said.

The report comes after the commission condemned the August 1 violence that killed seven and injured several people after the army used live ammunition to disperse demonstrating MDC Alliance protesters.

Since then, there has been a crackdown on opposition members by State agents, accusing them of inciting and causing the deaths and damage to property from the demonstrations.

So far, 27 MDC Alliance activists have been arrested and appeared before the courts on charges of public violence.

On Thursday, Tendai Biti who had fled to Zambia but was denied asylum appeared before the courts for inciting violence and was released on $5 000 bail.

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