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Zimbabwe under pressure to investigate death of opposition party activist

The mysterious death of opposition party activist Tinashe Chitsunge has put Zimbabwe under immense pressure to thoroughly investigate the incident.

Chitsunge, a supporter of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), was brutally attacked and killed in Harare’s Glen View South area, allegedly by members of the ruling Zanu PF party. This incident has raised serious concerns about the state of human rights and political violence in Zimbabwe, especially with the upcoming general elections scheduled for 23 August 2023.

International Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International has strongly condemned the murder of Chitsunge and has called on the Zimbabwean government to take immediate action. In a press statement, Amnesty International urged the authorities to launch a comprehensive, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into Chitsunge’s death. They emphasize the importance of bringing the suspected perpetrators to justice and ensuring access to justice and effective remedies for Chitsunge’s family.

The statement also implores the Zimbabwean authorities to take proactive measures to prevent politically motivated violence and refrain from making inflammatory statements that could further incite similar attacks or discourage people from exercising their human rights and expressing support for their preferred political parties. This call for action demonstrates the serious concern that Amnesty International holds for the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, Khanyo Farisè, expressed grave concern over the fatal attack on Chitsunge, emphasizing that it reflects a grim reality of the current human rights environment in Zimbabwe, particularly in the context of the upcoming general elections. The murder of an opposition party activist highlights the risks faced by individuals who dare to express their support for political parties other than the ruling Zanu PF.

The pressure on Zimbabwe to investigate Chitsunge’s death is not only coming from international organizations like Amnesty International, but also from the local community and opposition parties. The CCC, for instance, has condemned the murder and called for justice to be served. They demand that the authorities take immediate action to ensure the safety of all citizens, regardless of their political affiliations.

Zimbabwe under pressure to investigate death of opposition party activist
Zimbabwe under pressure to investigate death of opposition party activist.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Chitsunge’s death raise further suspicion and underscore the need for a thorough investigation. The Zimbabwean government must act swiftly and transparently to uncover the truth and hold the responsible parties accountable. Failing to do so will only further erode trust in the authorities and undermine the credibility of the upcoming general elections.

Such callous acts of violence, which have repeatedly marred Zimbabwe’s political landscape, gravely threaten the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. These acts not only pose significant challenges to the upcoming general election on August 23 but also undermine the core principles of democracy and human rights.

The recent brutal killing of Chitsunge in Glen View South, Harare, serves as a grim reminder of the prevalence of political violence in Zimbabwe. Reports suggest that Chitsunge was stoned to death by suspected Zanu PF activists while he was attempting to escape from a mob attacking opposition activists gathered for a rally. This tragedy showcases the deep-rooted tensions and animosity between rival political groups, which have often resulted in violence and bloodshed.

The upcoming general election is a crucial moment for Zimbabwe, as it represents an opportunity for the country to consolidate its democratic processes and promote a peaceful transition of power. However, in order for this to occur, it is imperative that the authorities ensure a peaceful environment before, during, and after the elections. They must fully respect, protect, promote, and fulfill the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression.

Zimbabwe under pressure to investigate death of opposition party activist
Zimbabwe under pressure to investigate death of opposition party activist.

The government has expressed its condolences over the death of Chitsunge and issued a stern warning to those responsible for tarnishing the country’s image in the lead-up to the plebiscite. While this response is necessary, it is crucial that the government takes concrete actions to address these systemic issues and prevent future acts of violence. There must be a commitment to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes, regardless of their political affiliation.

Civil society organizations, such as the Election Resource Centre (ERC), have also raised their voices in condemnation of these acts of violence. The ERC emphasizes that the right to life is sacrosanct and must be protected. The fundamental rights to association and assembly are pillars of democracy, and any attempts to suppress these rights should be met with strong opposition. Additionally, the right to own private property is enshrined in Zimbabwe’s Constitution, and any acts of arson, as reported in Shurugwi, should be condemned and swiftly addressed.

The ERC calls for a prompt and comprehensive investigation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in light of the upcoming elections. It is essential that those responsible for acts of violence are identified and held accountable through legal channels.

All political leaders must take decisive action to prevent and discipline their members involved in political violence. Such acts only serve to undermine the integrity of the election process. The ERC emphasises the urgent need to stop escalating levels of election-related violence, incitement, and hate speech. By doing so, we can ensure a more peaceful and fair electoral environment leading up to the harmonized elections.

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