by TZN Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) says three top ZANU-PF officials and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) should be held accountable for the wanton violence that rocked former Hurungwe West legislator, Temba Mliswa’s Karoi farm in the run-up to the by-election to replace him.
In a scathing 30-page report on the violence that took place at Mliswa Karoi farm in the run-up to the by-election, the ZHRC said there was no doubt that former Local Government and National Housing minister, Ignatius Chombo (now Home Affairs minister), former Homes Affairs deputy minister (and now also former) acting ZANU PF Mashonaland provincial chairman, Ziyambi Ziyambi, as well as flamboyant businessmen and ZANU-PF member Phillip Chiyangwa were responsible for the savage violence at Spring Farm which barbaric act left some of the farm workers with permanent disabilities and should therefore should, together with others, be sued for civil damages.
“…The ZHRC concludes that political affiliation to a specific political party or candidate or lack thereof is no justification for violence and violation of people’s rights as enshrined in the Constitution. Further, perpetration of such violence in the vicinity of police officers is another violation of peoples’ right to protection of the law which is associated with the police. The victims should be assisted with legal representation by legal aid organisations to pursue civil remedies for pain, suffering and impairment of human dignity,” said ZHRC said in its findings.
The constitutionally-established body, which is mandated with investigating human rights abuses in the country, made the conclusions after probing allegations of political violence raised by Mliswa and which investigation found that violence had taken indeed taken place at the farm—which Mliswa is in the process of being dispossessed of as punishment for ‘rebelling’ against the ruling party.
According to the report, after Chombo, Chiyangwa and Ziyambi—among other ZANU-PF heavyweights—addressed a meeting at Nyamhunga primary School in Hurungwe West where a decision was made to eject Mliswa from both Mashonaland province and his Springs Farm, in a well-coordinated war-like operation, more than 1000 members of the ZANU-PF Youth League—on instructions from their leaders—descended on the farm where they established more than ten bases from which they terrorized the hapless farm workers in front of police officers. After their harrowing experience, the victims went on to be denied medical treatment at Chinhoyi General hospital, resulting in them having to travel all the way to Harare where they were treated at the Avenues Clinic.
The ZHRC accused police details from the ZRP of being complicit in the criminal act by standing akimbo while the savage brutalities were taking place. Infact the six officers who were deployed to the farm at the invitation of Ziyambi were reportedly drinking beer while regaling at the beatings.
The ZHRC report says so much was the violence that Mliswa was unable to exercise his democratic right to campaign in the run-up to the by-election which his opponent, Keith Guzah, went on to win by a run-away margin. Mliswa, who was the ZANU-PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman until he was booted out of the ruling party, is challenging the results of the election in the courts.
The ZHRC said Chombo refused to be interviewed, and Chiyangwa outrightly denied the allegations claiming he was just an ordinary attendee at the crucial Nyamhunga school meeting, while Ziyambi defended the siege at Mliswa’s farm as part and parcel of the democratic right to protest.
However, ZHRC ruled that Ziyambi’s right to protest argument did not hold water as ZANU-PF’s week-long siege that took place between April 26 and May 4 this year could not be mistaken for a peaceful protest that citizens are entitled to under the law.
Ziyambi is now a semi-detached member of the ruling party after he was slapped with a two- year suspension and subsequently dismissed from his junior ministerial post for his alleged links with a ZANU-PF faction that was allegedly seeking to overthrow President Robert Mugabe from power.
The ZHRC report pointed out that what happened in Hurungwe West violated the entire roll call of human rights statues, be they international, regional or domestic.
From its investigations in the case, where police officers were turned into ordinary spectators in face of criminal activities under the watchful eyes of ZANU-PF party mandarins—who have no scruples at all when it comes to conflating the ruling party and the State—the ZHRC made the following conclusions:
“It is recommended that the Commissioner General of Police should immediately investigate the criminal human rights violations which occurred in Spring Farm namely torture and assault and ensure that all the perpetrators are made to account for their criminal activities. This is in line with Section 243 1 (h) of the Constitution, which empowers the Commission to direct the Commissioner General of Police to investigate cases of suspected criminal violations of human rights or freedoms and to report to the Commission of any such investigations.
“ZHRC recommends that the Police Services Commission (PSC) improves the training of police officers in investigating and handling human rights and politically-motivated cases. The PSC should ensure that, in their functions, police officers act in a non-partisan manner, should not further the interests of any political party or cause, should not prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause and should not violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person as enshrined in Section 208 (2) of the Constitution.
“The Parliament of Zimbabwe should ensure that all the State, all institutions and agencies of government are held accountable for the promotion and enforcement of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Parliamentarians should undertake an inclusive process to engage citizens in understanding human rights in their respective constituencies so as to help reduce the human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
“The ZHRC recommends that the Government ratifies and domesticates the Convention against Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and its Protocol as well as the adoption of national legislation to criminalize torture. Government should further promote awareness to political players on how to conduct their political activities without resorting to torture.”