Chamisa’s police brutality motion finally succeeds in Parliament
By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
A motion by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) co-vice president and Kuwadzana MP, Nelson Chamisa, has finally been accepted for debate following a false start when ruling Zanu PF legislators walked out on Tuesday.
The motion is pushing for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into police brutality and the establishment of an independent mechanism to resolve complaints relating to abuse of human rights.
It also seeks to force an apology from the police over alleged human rights abuses, in addition to a platform for the compensation of victims of persecution by State security agencies.
Section 210 of the constitution provides for the establishment of an independent mechanism to address victims’ complaints but it is yet to be set up.
This is in addition to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) which is already in place but is often criticised for being toothless and partisan.
Chamisa told Nehanda Radio that the motion had initially been introduced on an urgent basis as an issue of national importance but could not go through the preliminary stages as Zanu PF MPs snubbed it through the walk-away.
“It is clear that the Zanu PF MPs walked out because they wanted to avoid debate, but the motion has now been introduced under ordinary and normal business, so that it gets the attention it requires,” said Chamisa, meaning that it will now be debated.
Human rights defenders, political parties and ordinary residents have roundly condemned police heavy-handedness when reacting to peaceful protests.
On Wednesday, police threw a live teargas canister into a minibus with people, injuring passengers and causing a popular outcry.
Anti-riot details were responding to a protest campaign, #MyZimbabwe that was launched by the MDC-T youth wing and was followed by riots that resulted in the torching of a police truck and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) vehicle.
ZANU PF MPs on Tuesday refused to support the motion by Chamisa who wants the Home Affairs Minister called by the august house to launch a full investigation into cases of police brutality against peaceful protesters.
The motion was introduced a week ago but could not go through parliament’s preliminary stages for debate after Zanu PF MPs filed out of parliament one after the other leaving the house with no sufficient members to make a quorum.
Parliament needs at least 70 members at every given time to discharge its business.
After the snub last week, Chamisa took advantage of the resumption of parliament on Tuesday to table the motion but was again given a cold shoulder by Zanu PF legislators.
During the process, the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda called for MPs who supported the motion to show such support by standing up and only MDC-T MPs rose, leaving dozens of Zanu PF MPs who constitute the parliamentary majority chained to their seats.
The conduct of Zanu PF MPs has been described by critics as an indirect endorsement of worsening cases of police brutality in the country.
When he introduced it first time, the MDC-T deputy president described his motion as of “urgent national importance” after police have continued to beat up protesters while journalists have also been caught up in the beatings.
“This motion has to do with what we have witnessed in our country – a very sad development which I have no doubt is not supported by any legitimate Member of Parliament and we are all legitimate Members of Parliament,” Chamisa said then.
“The issue of the conduct of citizens who claim to be police officers because their conduct has not been consistent with the conduct of police officers.”
Chamisa called for Minister of Home Affairs to investigate the conduct of the police and report to Parliament within the shortest possible time.
“…Now therefore call upon this house to do the following, asks the Minister of Home Affairs to issue a public apology in the context of that investigation for the untoward conduct of some of the police officers,” Chamisa made a request among a list of other demands.
Anti-riot police have been slammed for brutally crushing peaceful protest against President Robert Mugabe’s failing leadership.
Groups, led by the activist #Tajamuka/Sesijikile and the Occupy Africa Unity Square have staged successive demonstrations calling on President Mugabe to surrender his job.
They accuse the Zimbabwean leader of being the cause of the country’s worsening economic hardships that have seen massive joblessness and a crippling cash crisis, among other ills.
President Mugabe has used party and national forums to both castigate and issue threats against his critics which he has dismissed as fronts for the hostile West.
Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo has also been quoted a number of times insisting the state will crush any anti-government protests while Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga has also issued similar threats against protesters. Nehanda Radio