Ministers of justice and police laughed at my brutalisation” – Claims female MP

Bulawayo Proportional Representation legislator, Jasmine Toffa, claims that when she described her experience of political violence in Parliament some time ago, the Ministers of Home Affairs and Justice laughed at her brutalisation.

Last year in October, Toffa and other Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members were brutally assaulted by suspected ZANU-PF members while campaigning for Insiza’s Ward 4 by-election.

They were campaigning for their party’s candidate, Augustine Gumede, when they were assaulted with sticks, logs, fists, and stones by assailants believed to be the same group who attacked other CCC supporters in Matobo last year.

Toffa told journalists at the Bulawayo Media Centre last week during a debate on organised torture and violence in Zimbabwean elections that when she narrated her experience in Parliament, Minister of Home Affairs, Kazembe Kazembe who oversees police and Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi, laughed.

“When the Minister of Home Affairs was saying my story was ‘orchestrated, fabricated, it’s what the opposition does,’ the MPs asked me to go to Parliament as soon as I was released from hospital. I actually witnessed the Minister of Home Affairs saying ‘it’s all hogwash, nonsense it’s just grandstanding,’” Toffa said.

According to the MP, this incident occurred when Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese raised the matter on a point of privilege. 

“I don’t think the minister had seen me and Gonese said ‘Honourable Toffa is here’ asking me to stand up, since the minister was saying our attacks were all made up. The Speaker, or one of the MPs, asked me to come up to where he was. I went to the Speaker’s Chair and I sort of knelt down so he could speak to me, but for me it was more of him to see how I was and from there I went to sit down,” she narrated.

“As I sat opposite the Ministers of Home Affairs and Justice, I saw them looking at me and they were talking and laughing. I just stood up and I went right round to where Minister Kazembe was.”

Toffa claimed Minister Kazembe started shouting that she was coming to “intimidate him.”

“I said, ‘no I come to you with all due respect, I need to show you something.’ I had my bandages on, the plaster and bandages. I said,‘You see, this is a fracture  and there is a steel plate here, this is not social media, it is real. You see this plaster, it is real, it’s not on social media, can you see the bruising on my face, that was as a result of kicking, that is not social media.” I then said ‘thank you very much, that is all I want to show you’ and I walked away.’”

Toffay said Minister Kazembe responded by telling her that he was not given the opportunity to explain what he had meant.

“He said, ‘No honourable Toffa, I am sorry they didn’t give me a chance’ and I just walked away. The Speaker then called the minister to clarify what he meant, but he started again on the same road but my ears just blocked,” said the MP.

According to Toffa, such actions demonstrate how the Zanu PF government does not care about its people or want to act on criminal cases.

“It’s important because as a legislator and representative of the people, if I am not treated with respect and heard, yet I am supposed to represent the ordinary person, I feel as if the Parliament and our government are a farce,” Toffa said.

However, Toffa said she will continue participating in politics despite the ordeal she went through. 

“Yes, I will continue in politics. I actually went back to Insiza already a month ago to train coordinators because I was inspired by the way they kept reaching out to me and saying ‘watshayelwa thina,  (you were beaten for us)  and we will not bow down to what Zanu PF has done,’” she said.

“When I went back to the training, their response and when I saw how resolute they are to make sure they rule in the next election, it inspires me to go back to Insiza at every opportunity that I have.”

Toffa said she now has to hire a car to go to Insiza because hers was damaged during that attack.

“Zanu did that to demobilise me but I am not easily cowarded, I will go back. The struggle must continue. This is the only country that we have   and we do deserve a better Zimbabwe,” she said.

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