Since the emergence of popular social movements in early April 2016, tension is increasing between the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police and citizens. While the Zimbabwean have experienced a growing hostile response from the police by expressing their disappointment and anger on the current socio-political and economic order in the country, law enforcement agencies are increasingly being attacked by civilians in revenge. This growing hostile relationship between the police and the citizens creates interminable civil unrest and extremism on both parties. In the interest of maintaining peace and order, upholding human rights and dignity, the police should respond to the public’s acts of freedom of expression and association in a constructive and peaceful manner. The citizens, on the other hand, are lauded to respect their right to protest in peace without causing violence, disruption of other people’s rights and peace. Over 580 people have been injured with 161 being victims of organised violence since January 2016.
Heal Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with the rising socio-economic tensions, public violence and police brutality. We join other institutions, including the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and European Union, in calling for peace and an end to violence and police brutality. The violence experienced in the past between February and August 2016 reflects deep seated problems requiring a national dialogue through engaging citizens and the state. Expedient implementation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is also an opportune time for Zimbabwe to facilitate national healing, reconciliation and integration. Zimbabwe should at all cost avoid the South African Marikana consequences or chaotic extremism akin of the Middle East and North African experiences. Zimbabwe needs Peace and Peaceful resolution of conflicts. While the citizens must exercise their rights peacefully, the law enforcement agencies should uphold the constitution, respect human rights, fundamental freedoms when maintaining peace and order.