The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) yesterday castigated use of hate speech and character assassination which they said was rampant during the pre-electoral period.

In a statement, the ZHRC noted that although the environment was generally peaceful, there were isolated cases of electoral malpractices such as defacing of rivals’ campaign posters.

“The ZHRC carried out pre-election monitoring in Midlands, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland Central, Bulawayo and Manicaland in July and attended five Zanu PF and five MDC Alliance rallies in Mashonaland East, Midlands, and Matabeleland North during the process,” the ZHRC statement said.

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“At some of the rallies, hate speech and character assassination was rampant, but the right to campaign freely for a political party or cause was not infringed,” they said.

The ZHRC said they noted that there was peace and tranquillity, but isolated cases of electoral malpractice such as defacing of posters, hate speech and intimidation were taken by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the courts to ensure that perpetrators were prosecuted in accordance with the Electoral Act.

A number of people who were arrested for defacing campaign poster were arraigned before the courts, with others convicted for the offence.

“There is general political tolerance and maturity displayed by the various political parties which reflects good tenets of democracy. There is preparedness on the part of Zec to deliver and ensure the conduct of credible harmonised elections.”

They said they were concerned about the use of hate speech by some political parties at their rallies, while they noted a few cases of vote-buying in some provinces where food aid distribution along party lines was noted.

“The commission remains concerned with the cases of intimidation of voters in some provinces and has highlighted and advised stakeholders such as chiefs, headmen and those entrusted to lead the people to desist from such practice,” they said.

The ZHRC urged candidates and voters to accept the outcome of the results and ensure peace prevailed so that people enjoyed their human rights and freedoms.

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