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By RUMBIDZAI NGWENYA

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is worried by the increasingly toxic political environment.

In this regard, the commission has urged political parties to shun violence ahead of next year’s crunch national elections.

“The commission has noted with great concern recent political statements in the form of political sloganeering and hate speech by some reckless and unscrupulous political actors that can disturb the peace and personal security of other people.

“In its previous public statements, the commission expressed its aversion to the … increased incidences of hate speech and incitement to violence as reported then in both social and mainstream media in Zimbabwe.

“This statement is being made to bring the attention of political actors and others to the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights which should be respected and upheld by all without exception,” the ZHRC said yesterday.

“Threats of violence or murder of political opponents, or any person for that matter, are a clear and blatant violation of the right to life and right to personal security provided in Sections 48 and 52 of the constitution.

“Such threats, when taken in the political context, are inciting and inflammatory in nature, with the real danger of degenerating into widespread violence, injuries, loss of life and destruction of property.

“It is, therefore, irresponsible and dangerous for political actors to make such careless and hateful pronouncements,” the ZHRC added.

It also said that competition for political office needed to be based on the desire to improve the standard of living for all Zimbabweans.

The concerns by the ZHRC come after one of the interim vice presidents of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Tendai Biti, appealed to Zimbabweans last week to shun toxic politics and work together for the development of the country.

Speaking in the National Assembly, in a passionate plea for peace and unity, the Harare East MP also said unnecessary political fights were costing the country a lot.

“We have created these portals, foundations of divisions, but the thing that divides us most is politics.  Politics, in Zimbabwe, is suffocating because it is politics of intolerance, durawalls and division.

“Where you have such corrosive politics, it is difficult to come up with a common vision. It is politics of hatred, exclusion, intolerance, and regrettably, 42 years after independence that politics is entrenched.

“So I submit that we need to recalibrate our mindset, social and moral fabric. We need to restore a new social contract, a new consensus that we can see each other as Zimbabweans,” Biti said.

“It does not matter whether you are Zanu PF or not. It does not matter whether you are CCC or not. We must learn to put Zimbabwe first.

“But that has to start in communities that we live in. That has to start in the communities and villages in which we stay, whether you are in Guruve, Dotito, Mukumbura, Chendambuya, Tsholotsho, Binga or Tjolotjolo. It has to start with that,” he added. – Daily News