Statement on acts of violence that took place on the 1st August 2018 in Harare

The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) is deeply concerned over the incidents of violence that happened in the central business district of Harare on the 1st August 2018. According to Zimbabwe Republic Police and media reports, at least three people were killed as a result of civilian protestors clashing with members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) who were deployed to assist the Zimbabwe Republic Police to quell presidential election protests. It is reported that the members of the ZDF opened fire, using live bullets randomly at the protesters occasioning in several people sustaining injuries and some people losing their lives.

The Law Society is saddened by the loss of lives which came as a result of these demonstrations. Sanctity of life is guaranteed in the Constitution and such should be preserved at all times. Any wanton attack on life is condemned, thus the members of ZRP and ZDF are immediately called upon to desist from using disproportionate force to quell protests. Use of force by law enforcements agents ought to be justified and commensurate with the resistance faced, paying due regard to the safety of other non-participating members of public. Thus the Law Society calls upon the Police force to remain the vigilant in maintaining law and order in the country, however in doing so the Police ought to conduct itself within the confines of the Constitution.

The Law Society recognizes the right to demonstrate as fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right for citizens as enshrined in section 59 of the Constitution. However, hasten to remind citizens of Zimbabwe that such right should be exercised with due regard to the rights of others and within the confines of the law. Thus to this end the Law Society condemns malicious injury to property and incidents of violence that took place in Harare CBD with outmost aversion it deserves.

Aggrieved person or political parties should follow due legal process and avoid reckless use of self-help. The electoral system we use in Zimbabwe provides clear dispute resolution mechanisms which should be followed.

The Law Society calls upon all political leaders and the population as a whole to exercise restraint and reject any form of violence while awaiting resolution of the disputes and announcement of the election results. Lastly, the Law Society calls upon political party leaders and members of the public to desist from inciting and or perpetrating violence against others particularly at the behest of political differences and intolerance. Whilst acknowledging the right to freely express oneself, members of the public should also desist from the irresponsible use of social media to cause alarm and despondency.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe remains committed to rule of law and justice.

Source: Law Society of Zimbabwe