‘Intolerance, hate speech on the rise’ 

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THE National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) has expressed concern over a growing trend of hate speech and intolerance in the country, calling for an inclusive national dialogue to address the country’s socio-economic and political challenges.
This comes as the government has slammed critics and opposition leaders, calling them ‘‘evil minded’’ or ‘‘terrorists’’ funded by foreign agents to force a regime change.
The opposition political party officials and other activists have equally been using hate language as they respond to human rights violations in the country.
The NTJWG, established by 46 Zimbabwean transitional justice stakeholders, indicated that the public outcry from suffering Zimbabweans was being responded to with hate speech, despotism, and intolerance, all of which were barriers to constructive dialogue that could result in effective solutions and peace building.
“Zimbabwe has a dark history of violence and human rights violations which have been a result of intolerance, hate, and discrimination along racial, political, and ethnic lines. It is therefore deeply disturbing for the NTJWG that politicians and senior government officials, including the president, have recently been at the forefront in using hate speech and demonstrating intolerance for divergent views.”
NTJWG added that as the country grapples with its political, social, and economic crises worsened by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, key stakeholders need to lead the process of respectful and nation-building dialogue.
“Such dialogue is key to ensuring non-recurrence of atrocities such as Gukurahundi which came about as a result of the culture of intolerance and hate,” the transitional justice organisation said.
The NTJWG further called on the government, all government officials, and politicians to desist from perpetuating a culture of hate and intolerance in the country
“In keeping with the tenets of democracy, the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression in section 61. However, section 61 goes on to state that freedom of expression and freedom of the media exclude advocacy of
hatred or hate speech.
“Therefore, while all people may freely express themselves in Zimbabwe they are not free to do so in a manner that advocates for hatred. The NTJWG finds the use of hate speech and inflammatory language to be deeply antagonistic to all forms of criticism and it shows a high level of intolerance which should be condemned,” NTJWG added.

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