HARARE – The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has finally spoken against attacks on CCC legislators and other female opposition activists by alleged Zanu PF supporters in Matabeleland South last month.
Persons driving on Zanu PF marked vehicles descended on CCC supporters in two separate campaign activities ahead of by-elections in Matobo and Insiza, beating up and injuring several party members.
In Matobo, some women activists were allegedly attacked and left stripped by their assailants while Bulawayo proportional representative legislator Jasmine Toffa was also hospitalised following an attack in Insiza.
There have been no arrests on the attackers yet.
In a statement, the gender commission expressed concerns incidents of violence against women would discourage their participation in politics and the country’s decision making processes.
“We take particular note of the recent political violence against the women in Matobo, Matabeleland South Province,” said the commission.
“Such assaults, regardless of the context, perpetrator, or the target, are an infringement on the rights to personal security and bodily integrity as well as freedom from all forms of violence from private and public sources as espoused in Section 52 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“As ZGC, we are concerned that the violence is likely to discourage women’s participation in politics and decision making which the commission has been actively promoting.”
Added the commission, “Women will not equally participate in elections if the environment is violent.
“ZGC is therefore, urging the government, political parties, law enforcement agents, media respectively to publicly declare commitment to upholding constitutional provisions in dealing with alleged constitutional provision, to transparently investigate into circumstances surrounding the case and to encourage responsible reporting in order to avoid causing secondary trauma some of which has the potential to jeopardise access to justice.”
ZGC is mandated by the country’s constitution to “monitor issues concerning gender equality, investigate possible gender violations, receive and consider complaints from the public, advice the private and public institutions on steps to be taken ensure equality, and recommend prosecution for criminal violations of rights relating to gender”.
However, the silence the commission on recent attacks targeting opposition activists had brought sentiments of alleged bias by the quasi-state organ.