The group of journalists, politicians and members of civic society who attended a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists conference this week said law enforcers should expedite investigations of cases of pre- and post-election violence affecting women and children so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
In their resolutions, they said: “We want the police to police the law” and “reforms are needed first before we get into an election”.
MDC-T MP Dzivarasekwa Evelyn Masaiti said government should expedite the national healing process and promote tolerance among parties.
“The issue is not about when people should have elections, they could have been held yesterday or today with the same result,” she said. “The issue is to end violence and leaders should educate their supporters to be tolerant.”
One participant who works for Childline raised some concern at the way the police handle rape cases.
“We are worried that we report a case and police officers tell you that they can’t do anything about it, even the ones who we think are most senior at these stations,” she said.
The 2008 harmonised elections and the subsequent presidential run-off, according to human rights groups, recorded the worst abuses in Zimbabwe’s election history.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reported that more than 16 000 cases of politically motivated violence were reported, 14 rape cases, more than 2 000 of assault and more than 400 cases of torture and kidnapping. MDC-M women’s assembly representative Ellen Gonyora criticised the legal system for turning a blind eye to gross human rights abuses committed during elections.
She said there were many cases of sexual abuse of girls and women in 2008, which were ignored not only by the police, but also by politicians whom she said seem to be now living comfortably forgetting about the abused people who campaigned for them.
“We are raped and abused whilst these female ministers and the people we campaign for are living in the comfort of their homes,” Gonyora said.
Taurai Mangudhla/Berven Chatendeuka