British House of Lords Member of Parliament (MP) Jonathan Oates Tuesday said the human rights violations will soil Zimbabwe and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s image.
Oates’ remarks were triggered by videos of incarcerated opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs Job Sikhala (Zengeza West) and Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North) being taken to court in leg irons. They are accused of inciting violence in Nyatsime after the murder of CCC activist Moreblessing Ali. Oates tweeted:
Does Mnangagwa have any idea how damaging these images are to Zimbabwe’s reputation around the world? Why are remand prisoners who pose no flight risk being put in leg irons? Come to think of it why are they under arrest at all?
This is happening as the Commonwealth members are in Kigali, Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Zimbabwe’s bid for re-admission into the grouping will be discussed.
On Monday, while addressing mourners at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, during the burial of Major-General (Rtd) Sydney Bhebe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused the opposition CCC of stage-managing acts of political violence to stall Zimbabwe’s readmission into Commonwealth club. The late former President Robert Mugabe withdrew the southern African country from the Commonwealth in 2003 in protest after the group extended sanctions on Zimbabwe following a chaotic and bloody land reform programme.
To rejoin, Zimbabwe is required to comply with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth charter, among them democracy, rule of law, human rights and freedom of expression.
Over the years, Zimbabwe has recorded gross human rights violations, with the ruling ZANU PF and government being accused of perpetuating a culture of violence, abductions and killings.
Political analysts said chances of Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth were slim.