Heal Zimbabwe strongly condemns the violent attack on tobacco farmers by riot police at Tobacco Sales Floors (TSF) in Harare on 4 May 2017. Riot police were called in to disperse scores of farmers who were peacefully demonstrating against failure by TSF to pay them their dues on time.
As a way of dispersing the tobacco farmers, riot police started throwing teargas and assaulting them. In the chaos that ensued, several farmers were injured. A farmer who spoke on anonymity to Heal Zimbabwe testified that riot police refused to entertain any grievances that the farmers highlighted.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that the use of brute force to disperse and crush demonstrations is not only barbaric but an infringement of human rights and violates Section 59 of the Zimbabwe Constitution which state that, “every person has the right to demonstrate and present a petition.”
The economic conditions bedevilling the nation has forced citizens to express their displeasure by embarking on peaceful demonstrations. The police as custodians of the law must take it as priority to protect and promote the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms by citizens such as freedom to petition or demonstrate. The Government must rather move in to address the current economic problems affecting the country by implementing sound economic policies that enhance and attract investments and promote foreign currency injection.
Heal Zimbabwe also implores the police to use peaceful means in resolving conflicts. Heal Zimbabwe further calls upon the Government to put measures in place that ensure that its citizens enjoy their constitutional rights of demonstrating and petitioning. Government must also swiftly operationalise and establish an independent complaints mechanism that is provided for in Section 210 of the constitution. This mechanism allows members of the public to report misconduct on the part of members of the security services and is key for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.