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Respect human rights

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REPORTS that members of the presidential guard brutally assaulted a Victoria Falls woman for using a wrapping cloth emblazoned with President Robert Mugabe’s image to strap thatch grass could not have come at a worse time.

The beastly attack came a day before Mugabe formally took over as chairman of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) at the just-ended summit in the resort town.

Members of Mugabe’s close security who were brandishing AK47s rifles assaulted the hapless woman in the name of the president.

Victoria Falls residents have complained that security forces deployed in the resort town for the summit routinely harassed
them.

Similar complaints were also made during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly last year.

There have already been doubts that Mugabe’s assumption of the Sadc post would help the region in any way considering the country’s human rights history. As if the assault on the defenceless Victoria Falls woman was not enough, police in Harare reportedly savaged a female photojournalist for doing her job.

Angela Jimu, a photographer with the The Zimbabwe Mail, was allegedly assaulted by police while covering a demonstration in Harare by MDC-T youths.

According to reports, the police bundled Jimu into their vehicle from where they proceeded to severely assault her after confiscating her camera and mobile phone. While such incidents are common occurrence in Zimbabwe, the timing is really bad.

All eyes are on Zimbabwe as questions were already swirling about the Sadc decision to entrust the region’s future on a leader who has courted so much controversy.

The despicable human rights violations as amplified by the two unrelated incidents would be cannon fodder for Zimbabwe’s critics.

Zimbabwe is expected to lead from the front during its tenure as Sadc chairperson and respect for human rights is one such fundamental area that we should not compromise on.

The security forces should play ball because no one is above the law and this is guaranteed in the new Constitution.

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