22 January 2019

Zimbabwe: MDC in Jacob Mudenda Plea to Help End Crackdown On Opposition

MDC national chair Thabitha Khumalo has implored parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda to take a stand against gross rights violations directed at party MPs, activists and general citizens linked to last week's violent anti-government protests.

In a letter she wrote Monday to Mudenda as MDC leader of the house, Khumalo cited the arrest and continued incarceration of four party legislators charged with treason.

They are Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya, Lloyd Mukapiko (Redcliff), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba) and Levi Chiminya (Chiwundura).

The four were arrested last week and are now languishing in remand prison pending trial over charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government.

They are among 700 locals who have been arrested for offences relating to instigating or perpetrating acts of violence during fierce protests that coincided with a national job stay away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions last week.

The state has unleashed the army and police to quell the protests and to track down those fingered in the skirmishes with 12 reported dead during the crackdown.

The country's main opposition feels the accusations directed at party MPs and those linked to the disturbances have gone beyond a reasonable attempt by authorities to see the country's laws take their course on alleged offenders but were now bordering on deliberate persecution on perceived government enemies.

In her letter to Mudenda, Khumalo said parliament should exercise its powers to superintend over state affairs amid a brazen attempt to violate the country's laws.

"For the record, the Constitution of Zimbabwe confers prominence to the fact that all Institutions, Agencies of the State, Government and all Individuals are accountable to Parliament," said the Bulawayo legislator.

She said every institution, including that of state President and security forces, fell under the country's constitution.

"To our surprise some members of the Uniformed Forces and Judiciary are behaving in a manner that portrays tendencies which are in conflict to these provisions.

"It is for this reason that I consider it of paramount significance that the Constitution be upheld, respected and defended, particularly by those holding high offices like Your esteemed office, Presidency and Uniformed Forces.

"In this regard the unleashing of the Security Forces on the MDC MPs and the General Public without the express authority of Parliament is very worrying," Khumalo said.

Contrary to government claims it was called by the MDC, Khumalo said the job boycott was a natural reaction by angry locals to government's unpopular decision to hike fuel prices beyond the reach of many.

"Consequently, some of the MPs are being charged for alleged attempts to subvert the sitting Zanu PF Government.

"In this regard we strongly feel that these are trumped up frivolous charges meant to frustrate and prejudice their social standing and that of the MDC-Alliance," she said.

Khumalo added, "A host of other MDC MPs are being threatened and haunted by the State Security Agencies.

"All is being done for no good reasons. It must be highlighted to you that Opposition MP's are also Citizens who deserve respect just like their Zanu PF counterparts thus we call upon you to always ensure that this remains the case always."

"... I am also concerned with the widespread victimization of MDC Members and the Public at large throughout the Country. Parliament through Your Office must as of necessity, implore all Members of the Uniformed Forces involved in various operations to always respect Human Rights in their execution of duty."

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