Churches caution politicians against hate speech

The Churches Convergence on Conflict and Peace Consortium (CCCOP) has called on politicians, especially government officials to refrain from the use of inflammatory and hate language that may incite violence.

This comes after two people died and 17 others were injured at a rally held by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) after they were attacked by a mob of Zanu PF members in Kwekwe Sunday.

“The consortium mourns with the Ncube family who have lost their son (Mboneni) who died practising his right to political expression. We are also praying for the speedy recovery of those injured. The local Church is on the front line offering psychosocial support to the affected families,” said CCCOP in a statement.

The churches noted that this violence came just a few days after the use of inflammatory language by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

“We call upon all politicians to refrain from the use of inflammatory and hate language that may incite violence. Political parties should restrain their members and those found perpetrating violence should be expelled,” CCCOP said who also lamented the increasing number of incidents of violent disruptions of Parliamentary hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill.

“This is placing the lives under threat of citizens who are actively participating in policy formulation and engaging parliamentarians.”

CCCOP urged the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to actively protect citizens in these hearings as they exercise their constitutional rights of contributing to policy formulation.

“We, however, also note that ZRP moved with speed to arrest some of the alleged perpetrators on the Kwekwe murder and assaults. We, therefore, call upon the justice system to also move swiftly in order to send out a clear message that politically motivated violence will not be tolerated,” the churches noted.

“CCCOP calls upon the ZRP and Judiciary system to continue upholding this mandate without political favours. As CCCOP we are also concerned about the violent disruptions.”

The consortium also noted there was a rise in politically motivated violence since the proclamation of March 26 by-elections on January 6, 2022, by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

These include the February 15, 2022, alleged attacks on Zanu PF election campaign team members in Njube Bulawayo.

February 16, 2022, CCC supporters were allegedly assaulted with iron bars by Zanu PF supporters in Harare East, where Tendai Biti is contesting against Zanu PF candidate Mavis Gumbo for the by-election.

February 18, 2022, a disabled CCC member known as DJ Vaneldo was also attacked by alleged Zanu PF supporters at his home in Highfields where his parents and people around the house were also assaulted.

CCCOP said on the same day, 13 CCC members were arrested in the afternoon by the ZRP for allegedly staging a car rally.

Then on February 26, 2022, there was a confrontation between the ZRP and CCC members in Gokwe and the February 27, 2022, Kwekwe violence during the CCC rally.

On March 1, 2022, alleged Zanu PF youth disrupted the Parliament’s public hearings on the PVO Amendment bill in Highfields Harare.

“As the election season continues, political motivated violence will continue to escalate and may result in the loss of more lives unless swift action is taken. To that regard we call upon the government and independent Chapter 12 commissions to make sure that citizens are protected as per Zimbabwe Constitution. The ZRP must to provide security and protection to all Zimbabweans as they exercise their democratic and constitutional rights of political participation and choice,” said the churches.

The consortium also urged the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to give timely responses and reprimand all acts of electoral political violence

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to fully activate the political Multi-Party Liaison Committees which are mandated to promote peace, political tolerance and nonviolence pre and post-elections.

We urge the Courts to mete out sentences that will send a strong message that political violence will not be tolerated,” CCCOP said.

“CCCOP will activate its Local Peace Committee (LPC) structures to actively work with ZEC Political Parties Liaison platforms to engage political parties and create dialogue at local level. Our LPCs will work with ZEC in all the areas with by-elections to create a conducive environment for peace.”

“We pray that as Zimbabweans prepare for the by-elections in a spirit of peace, equity, tolerance, respect and Ubuntu. We urge the Church to continue to pray for this nation and elections as Prophet Jeremiah 29 vs 7 says, ‘Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace there of shall ye have peace.”

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