The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, (the Forum), notes with great concern, the outbreak of violence and hate speech at the MDC-T Extraordinary Congress held on 27 December 2020. The political intolerance, hate-speech and violence demonstrated during the MDC-T Extraordinary Congress is disturbing given that political tensions are high in the country.
Scenes of the MDC-T top leadership hurling insults at each other on allegations of vote-rigging and subsequent physical attacks on Dr Thokozani Khupe and Morgen Komichi are very worrying. The Forum is perturbed by the continuous use of violence to resolve political differences. The slapping of Dr Khupe, caught on camera, by a disgruntled party youth, and use of sexist and hate language against her persona, raises the question of safe political platforms for female politicians in Zimbabwe. This is worrying considering that it happened at a time when the world is campaigning against gender-based violence, also coming immediately after the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.
The Forum is further concerned by the seemingly increasing trend of employing violence to address political differences. The saddening events at the MDC-T Extraordinary Congress point to a seemingly growing trend of intra-party violence in Zimbabwe as similar events were also witnessed during the ruling ZANU-PF’s primary elections in October, where not less than 5 people were arrested on charges of inciting and participating in public violence. The concerning trend in intra-party violence lays the bedrock for a culture of violence and this can easily set up the whole nation in flames, more so as we run-up to the 2023 harmonised elections, where traditionally, elections have culminated in the exacerbation of politically motivated violence.
The Forum, therefore, encourages all political parties to adhere to the principles of peace, tranquillity and the democratic principles that apply to the selection of leaders. The Forum also calls on all political parties to respect female participants and to refrain from using obscenities and gender-related insults to address political differences as observed at the MDC-T Extraordinary Congress. The Forum implores all political parties in Zimbabwe to use dialogue and non-violence as the only source of dispute resolution.