British lawmakers have raised concern over the escalating political violence and continued detention of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators in the country.
The lawmakers called for King Charles’ support in condemning acts of violence against opposition supporters ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
Debating in the House of Lords last week, Liberal Democrat Lord Jonny Oates had asked what consultations the UK government had done on the detention of opposition activists.
“To ask His Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Zimbabwe about the continued detention of opposition Members of the Zimbabwean Parliament Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, and other opposition activists,” asked Lord Oates
In response the British Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Lord Goldsmith said the issue had been raised in June.
“….the UK is concerned by the trend of lengthy pre-trial detention of government critics in Zimbabwe. We are monitoring the ongoing detention of the MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole. As the ambassador publicly stated on 2 October, the UK is committed to the fundamental right to peaceful assembly and association, as enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution. The former Minister for Africa also raised the issue with the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe on 30 June,
“I thank the noble Lord for raising this enormously important issue. He is right: the world is watching and of course the UK is deeply concerned by the challenging human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Political parties, journalists and opponents should be able to operate without any form of harassment.
“We regularly call for the rights of freedom of assembly and association, as well as the rule of law and due process, to be respected in line with Zimbabwe’s own constitution. We monitor all individual cases, including those that he mentioned, such as that of Jasmine Toffa MP. All political violence is concerning and violence against women in politics is of particular concern, particularly in Zimbabwe,” Lord Goldsmith said
Lord Oates reached out for King Charles’ support in condemning Zimbabwe’s brutalization of the opposition.
“Will he (King Charles) join me in calling on the Zimbabwe Government to end this political violence now? Will he join me also in making clear to ZANU-PF officials and Ministers, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe prison officers that the world is watching and holds them accountable for the safety and security of all Zimbabwe’s citizens?,” said Lord Oates
Baroness Kate Hoey called on the British Government to utilise proposed state visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise the issues.
“The economic situation is dire, and hunger is being used against anyone who opposes the regime. Does not the visit of the South African President—the first state visit under His Majesty the King—give the Government a wonderful opportunity to work with the South African Government and talk to them about how they, and other countries in Africa, can influence together to ensure that there really will be free and fair elections next year in Zimbabwe?,” said Baroness Hoey