By Veranda Langa
THE main opposition MDC yesterday demanded that Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema should issue a ministerial statement in Parliament explaining all the cases of abductions and torture of persons that have happened in the country and tainted its human rights record.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya yesterday made the demands before deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi.
Mathema was present in the House as Chikwinya made his proposal, but before the opposition legislator was even halfway through, Mathema had already stormed out of the House.
“I would like to raise a point of privilege and say that every time we pray in this House we pray in order to make laws for the good governance and maintenance of peace in this country,” Chikwinya said.
“It is disheartening that ever since August 14 we have seen 26 opposition MPs being abducted at night,” he said as Mathema stormed out of the House.
Chikwinya continued: “Section 61 (1) (b) of the Constitution allows for freedom of expression and creation of content, but it is disheartening that in these days of high unemployment where our youths seek to eke a living, they are abducted,” he said, adding that even MPs were beginning to experience threats to their lives.
“As MPs, while we are doing our work, we must seek to be protected, but recently Marondera Central MP Caston Matewu had his house sprayed with 21 bullets around 1:00 am. While we are doing our work as MPs we expect protection from law enforcement agents,” he said.
Chikwinya further noted that section 58 and 59 of the Constitution speak to freedom of assembly and to demonstrate.
Section 58 (1) reads: “Every person has the right to freedom of association and assembly, and the right not to assembly or associate with others.”
Section 59 further speaks to freedom to demonstrate and petition stating that: “Every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions but these rights must be exercised peacefully.”
Despite the Constitution giving such rights; it was disheartening that members of the opposition were not allowed to petition, mourned Chikwinya.
“The laws are being wantonly ignored by members of the Executive, assisted by members of the Judiciary. I call upon the Home Affairs minister to come and give a ministerial statement in the House on the issue,” he said.
Recently, a number of Zimbabweans, including Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Obert Masaraure and comedian “Gonyeti”, have been abducted and tortured by unknown people.
Concerned by the clampdown on demonstrators and opposition supporters, European Union countries last week issued a joint statement slamming government’s repression on demonstrators.
“Intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives and opposition politicians, prior to, during and following the demonstration in Harare on August 16 are cause of great concern,” the EU statement read.
Meanwhile, MDC legislators cheered as leader of the opposition Thabita Khumalo and Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya (party secretary-general) entered the House. The two were arrested over the August 16 demonstrations that saw several people being beaten up by the police with many sustaining injuries. NewsDay