HARARE - Zimbabwean opposition parties are expressing doubt the ruling ZANU-PF party will run peaceful elections later this month, after no ZANU-PF officials attended the unveiling Thursday of a human rights manifesto by Amnesty International. ZANU-PF says it was not told of the event.
Members of several Zimbabwean political parties were present Thursday when Amnesty International introduced its "Human Rights Manifesto" in Harare.
Amnesty’s deputy director for southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said Zimbabwe has witnessed many human rights violations over the years, such as forced disappearances.
Rights groups frequently accused former president Robert Mugabe of using arrests, torture, kidnappings and beatings to maintain his grip on power.
Mwananyanda said the time for such practices is over.
"We are also saying there has to be an end to impunity - particularly by security offices - violence perpetrated by security forces against people who are perceived to have dissenting voices. We would want that to change when the new government takes over after the 30th of July,” Mwananyanda said.
Zimbabwe holds its first election of the post-Mugabe era that day. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing challenges from Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Allliance and 22 other candidates.
Amnesty International said ZANU-PF had committed to attending Thursday's launch of the rights manifesto.
But ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya-Moyo denied that account, saying "I do not know anything about the meeting; nobody told me about it.”
MDC spokesman Nixon Nyikadzino said ZANU-PF’s absence was very palpable.
“The absence of ZANU-PF smacks of suspicion in the sense that they are one of the major stakeholders in this election and they are the ruling party. So we [should] have seen them here in order to commit to respecting people’s rights, particularly during the 2018 elections,” Nyikadzino said.
Past elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence, especially the 2008 presidential run-off vote, when ZANU-PF harassed and intimidated MDC supporters to ensure a victory for president Robert Mugabe.
Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told reporters earlier this week there have been no cases of politically-motivated violence before the July 30 election. She attributed that to Mnangagwa’s call for a peaceful campaign.