Outrage over police abuse female MPs

REPORTS from Parliament that police  abused female legislators during Wednesday’s sitting have been slammed by Zimbabweans from across the divide with some calling for a full probe into the disturbances.

Police stormed Parliament following an attempt by acting Speaker of Parliament Mabel Chinomona to eject MDC MP Costa Machingauta from the House for wearing a jacket donning the colours on the Zimbabwe flag.

But as pandemonium broke out — police tried to rough up MDC MPs who were shielding Machingauta from ejection — dozens of female MPs told our sister paper the Daily News afterwards that they had been sexually-abused by police officers who pounced on them.

Lwazi Sibanda, the MDC MP for Tsholotsho claimed that she had her undergarment torn as one of the officers pulled her skirt while another legislator Susan Machuma, alleged that one of the officers had fondled her breasts.

However, it emerged that parliamentary rules under order 110  did not give police any authority to enter into Parliament to eject a member.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said it is a public secret that there are some rogue elements that have infiltrated the police service. “Most of these uncouth elements are actually Zanu PF activists. It is the height of lawlessness and anarchy when law makers are sexually harassed inside Parliament by some misguided and overzealous Zanu PF thugs masquerading as police officers.

“This matter must be investigated at the highest level. The Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri, must be summoned by Parliament to explain why sex perverts and Zanu PF hoodlums are allowed to wear police uniform and also to be stationed at the seat of Parliament.

“This is a complete shame; a total disgrace.”

Gutu added that our police force, starting from the very top, needs a complete overhaul. “Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve to have a national police force that is effectively operating like an armed militia of the disintegrating and faction-ridden Zanu PF political party.”

Zimbabwe Election Support Network director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said police conduct in Parliament should be condemned and proper investigations should be done. “A report should be made public. Members of Parliament regardless of gender should be treated with respect in the august House.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the police’s action was barbaric. “That action shows how lawless Zimbabwe is. You have law enforcement officers leading the breach of laws.

“You have legislators, our law makers, being criminally abused by people who should enforce the law.

“This is obnoxious and backward. Democracies don’t work like that. There is no confirmation of how anarchic and unconstitutional Zimbabwe is than this.”

Saungweme added that those police officers must be arrested. “We can’t have criminals masquerading in police uniforms. No.”

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu said Parliament is an independent institution and unless there is a safety insecurity threat “the police has no business harassing MPs as that amounts to interference in the operations of Parliament and intimidation of MPs who should debate freely.

“Outside safety and security of MPs and it’s staff there is no reason for police to manhandle MPs.”

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said: “It’s sad that we continuously see a police organisation which is manipulated by politics. The solution is with the people. The people should put a stop to all these illegal and unconstitutional practices.”

Playwright Silvanos Mudzvova said this clearly shows that we have a police force which does not respect the Constitution at all. “They know the law and they just disregard it to clearly indicate that no one can touch them.

“Yes, women’s rights have been violated and nothing will happen to the accused police officers. If they can sexually harass parliamentarians what of just ordinary citizens?

“This is when I expect lawmakers to come hard and set example that no one can disregard the law no matter who you are.”
Mudzvova said if those affected were Zanu PF legislators arrests and condemnation could have happened same day, but because they are opposition MPs nothing will happen.

Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said: “This is a violation of parliamentary protocol. It shows how uninformed our security sector is; actually, contempt of Parliament is a criminal offense. The women movement must take commissioner to task.”

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