By Buhle Tshavango
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has castigated the Zimbabwe army’s involvement in the brutal beating and arrest of Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) youths who were demonstrating against President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
MRP youths were demanding that President Mnangagwa should come clean on his role in the Gukurahundi massacre that claimed the lives of about 20 000 alleged Ndebele people in the early 80s.
The army together with alleged Zanu PF youths and the police reportedly descended heavily on the MRP youths leading to the beating and detention of some of them at Brad barracks in Bulawayo.
In a statement, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said it was worrying that the military was engaging in activities beyond their jurisdiction.
“We note that the military has no arresting powers and wish to express our concern at the continued militarization of the state.
“The army officials’ action are a violation of the rights enshrined in the constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and gives citizens the right to petition and hold public officials accountable,” read the statement.
CiZC said the response to the protests through state repressive machinery is nothing short of a kneejerk response to a national issue which demands long-lasting solutions, adding that President Mnangagwa should take note of the legitimate grievances by the youths and institute remedial actions towards the genuine transitional justice and reconciliation.
The civic society organisation also hit out at the government for failing to acknowledge the Gukurahundi massacres and issuing apologies to the affected families, choosing to intimidate them instead.
“We note that 30 years after the genocide the executive has not acknowledged these killings neither has it made a public apology to the affected families.
“We are worried that the state and its agents have been intimidating an already fragile and traumatized populace mainly in Matabeleland and Midlands regions by unleashing violence and attempting to silence citizens demanding state accountability to such heinous crimes,” CiZC said.
Meanwhile, protest movement Tajamuka/Esjikile has also condemned the arrest of the MRP youths arguing that government should not force people to forgive and forget but should instead help them heal.
“The President cannot force people to forgive and forget but should allow people to heal through genuine national healing and reconciliation process.
“…We demand that the President deal with this emotive issue as a matter of urgency as its effects continue to be passed on from one generation to another,” said Tajamuka.
Meanwhile, the state has since dropped charges against the all the arrested MRP youths and they have been released.