The Zimbabwe Republic Police has warned political parties and their supporters to desist from politically motivated violence in the run-up to the party primary elections and during the harmonized elections saying those found guilty will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The call was made by Senior Assistant Commissioner, Erasmus Makodza, who will be the ZRP Commander during the election period.
Makodza said all forms of violence will be dealt with regardless of political affiliation.
“Any form of violence, threats or harassment of voters or rival contenders will certainly be dealt with in terms of the country’s law,” he said.
“In this respect, the judiciary in liaison with the police and other stakeholders has set up special courts throughout the country to speedily deal with politically motivated violence,” he noted.
He added that the police force has engaged political parties, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders to ensure an environment which is conducive to the holding of peaceful, credible and violent -free elections is maintained.
This comes as the country is now gearing up for the highly anticipated 2018 elections which, for the first time, will not be involving former President Robert Mugabe, whom many believe was the chief architect of political violence as he would willingly, unleash violence on his opponents.
There have been election violence before. Beatings, intimidation and sporadic killings were part of every ballot since the opposition emerged as a coherent force in 1999.
Makodza said the police will approach the judiciary to lobby for denial of bail for perpetrators of political violence, which, if successful, will be in violation of the constitution which gives everyone the right to a hearing, regardless of the nature of the crime.
He warned that no person should be forced to attend a rally they are not interested in and said in the event that such happens, the police will classify it as political violence.
In the current highly polarized environment, one of the biggest challenges Zimbabwe faces ahead of elections next year is to have independent, professional, and non-partisan institutions of justice.
The judiciary has, for long, been accused of siding with the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, says reports of political violence have started filtering in and with investigations already underway.
She added that they are also investigating the case involving MDC-T splinter group leader, Thokozani Khupe, who is alleged to have been physically harassed at a funeral of the late former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Charamba said they will avail the findings of the report once investigations are complete.