As part of the inquiry into the country’s human rights abuses, at least four witnesses are tomorrow set to give evidence to the United Kingdom’s International Development Committee as the organisation explores possible steps that can be taken in response to recent developments in Zimbabwe.

This comes after several reports of human rights abuses following a recent three-day stay-away that turned violent resulting in clashes between security forces and protesters. There also was wanton looting and destruction of property worth thousands of dollars.

In the aftermath, several women claimed they were raped by members of the security forces. A number of people from the opposition were arrested, while others went into hiding fearing for their safety, following a serious crackdown, which also targeted members of the civil society.

According to the UK Parliament website, the International Development Committee is going to take evidence from the minister of Africa Harriett Baldwin and other witnesses on the recent violent crackdown by Zimbabwe security forces.

The other witnesses are Jocelyn Alexander, professor of Commonwealth Studies at the University of Oxford, Stephen Chan, professor of Politics and International Studies at SOAS at University of London, Simukai Chigudu, an associate professor of African Politics at University of Oxford, and Annabel Gerry, head of Department for International Development South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The committee is also going to explore on how the UK should respond to the recent crackdown in Zimbabwe.

“The International Development Committee is holding an urgent evidence session on the situation in Zimbabwe. Following the recent violent crackdown by Zimbabwe’s security forces, this session allows the Committee to explore how the UK and DFID in particular, should respond.

“The Committee will first hear from a panel of academic experts before questioning the minister for Africa, Harriet Baldwin MP, and the head of DFID Zimbabwe.”

This session comes as Baldwin also expressed concerns to UK parliamentarians over allegations against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, following the crackdown.

“The recent developments in Zimbabwe are cause for significant concern for Her Majesty’s government.

“We believe that the response of the Zimbabwe security forces to protests against the petrol rise has been disproportionate and it’s been all too reminiscent of the darkest days of the (former Zimbabwe president Robert) Mugabe regime and we have been absolutely clear…these abuses and the failure to follow due process of law contravenes the fundamental tenets of international human rights standards and have absolutely no place in a democratic society.

“It is vital that Zimbabwe’s political leaders focus on what is best for their people with all parties rejecting violence and upholding the rule of law,” Baldwin, said.

Labour MP Kate Hoey last week called for investigation of human rights abuses in the country, which she said should be led by the African Union or the United Nations (UN).

The UN has also condemned the violent crackdown by State security.

“The United Nations is concerned over the recent spate of violence in Zimbabwe, leaving trails of destruction, looting, mass arrest and detention as well as reported physical violence, rape cases and sexual violence.”dailynews