United States congresswoman Karen Bass, has urged Zimbabwe to respect human rights following the post-election violence that resulted in the killing of at least six people during a demonstration in Harare.
Bass was part of the election observer team organised by the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which also included former Liberian president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which visited Zimbabwe during the election period.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Bass, said the post-election violence marred an almost smooth process, which was a contributing factor to US President Donald Trump’s stance of maintaining sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“Well, whether or not we remove sanctions and we move forward in our relations, is going to be how the government responds. So I do want (MDC Alliance leader Nelson) Chamisa to be a loyal opposition but what I don’t want to see, is I don’t want to see the government commit human rights abuses.
And I don’t want to see them arrest, incarcerate and attack the opposition.
“So both sides have to maintain peace. And if peace is maintained and the opposition is allowed to function as a legitimate opposition, then the United States should examine our relation with Zimbabwe, and see how we move forward,” Bass said.
Zimbabwe held harmonised election on July 30, 2018, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa emerged victorious, winning by a thin margin.
Before the completion of the announcement of the results, suspected opposition members were involved in a serious protest that resulted in the death of at least six people after they were shot by security personnel.
Following this incident, there were reports of abductions of members of the opposition by suspected State security officials.
Some members of the opposition reportedly fled from their homes after receiving death threats.
There was worldwide condemnation of the reported acts of human rights abuse, with observers and other countries calling for Zimbabwe to use minimum force in reacting to protests.
Mnangagwa has since set up a seven-member commission of inquiry into the events that led to the death of the six people.
The commission of inquiry is headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
Chamisa has since lost a Constitutional Court application, in which he challenged the results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
Chief justice Luke Malaba in unison with eight other judges, upheld the results announced by Zec.
Bass, who is a ranking member of the (Foreign Affairs) subcommittee on Africa, said the US must continue to monitor the situation.
She also encouraged the Zimbabwean government to respond to the opposition in a peaceful manner and that the opposition must continue to protest, be vocal, but in a peaceful manner.
Bass further said Chamisa must recognise the decision made by the Supreme Court and prepare to participate in the next election, expected in 2023, even though he feels he won the election.
“Well again, I hope the way forward is peaceful opposition. I mean look, look at our situation here.
“I don’t like our current president and we had a very messy process here in the United States and many people questioned the legitimacy.
“But he is the president and as long as he is the president, you know I can say I don’t want him to be the president all day long, but I am a member of Congress and I function as part of government and he’s the president.
“And I am hoping that we’ll be able to change that in 2020 if not before,” she said.