THE United Kingdom (UK) has blasted Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s threats to crush the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) like “lice”.
This followed the death of CCC member Mboneni Ncube from injuries sustained after suspected Zanu PF supporters allegedly unleashed an orgy of violence at a CCC rally in Kwekwe.
The ruling Zanu PF party had a rally in the same city a day before the violence where Chiwenga was quoted threatening to crush the opposition like “lice”.
Zimbabwe will in a fortnight hold by-elections to replace Members of Parliament and councillors recalled by Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T and those that died.
The by-elections are believed by many to be a dress rehearsal of the 2023 harmonised elections.
The UK parliament on Tuesday discussed the Zimbabwean situation, including the government’s relations with Russia, which is currently involved in an armed conflict with Ukraine.
Zimbabwe abstained when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted against Russia’s armed conflict in Ukraine.
Contributing to a debate in UK parliament, Lord Oates asked whether the government was aware of Chiwenga’s utterances.
Lord Oates quoted Chiwenga saying, “You see how we crush lice . . . You put it on a flat stone and then flatten it to the extent that even flies will not make a meal out of it.
That is what we are going to do for CCC.”
“Will the government condemn the Vice-President’s violent incitement and work with the international community to hold the Zimbabwean government accountable for the safety and security of all Zimbabweans, who should have the right to freely elect their leaders without fear of violence or intimidation?”
The Earl of Courtown, Patrick Courtown, said Chiwenga’s language, inciting political violence, had no place in any country, including Zimbabwe.
“We urge the government of Zimbabwe to live up to their constitution in ensuring that all political parties are allowed to operate and campaign without harassment,” he said.
“As our ambassador publicly stated after the death of a CCC supporter at the rally on February 27, 2022, we urge police to fully investigate any acts of political violence and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Courtown further expressed concern over restrictions on freedom of assembly and the harassment of journalists, opposition supporters and civil society, and that the PVO Amendment Bill could be used to restrict civic space.
Lord Collins of Highbury put to task the UK government on the harassment of civil society in Zimbabwe.
The UK government also expressed concern that Zimbabwe abstained during the UNGA vote on Ukraine.
The bloc recently removed Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda and former First Lady Grace Mugabe from its list of sanctions.
It, however, extended its restrictions including an arms embargo on the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), an entity which is the only one on the EU sanction.