The Zimbabwe Peace Project is worried by the nature of incidents recorded in December although the number of cases were in a downward trend, 124 from 190 recorded in November. It seems while the tension between Lacoste and G40 factions in Zanu PF might have been at bay in most communities in December they left a significant mark as some of those who felt abused by those who had more influence before November 15 were settling scores openly.
While cases of intra-party conflict slipped a little from 13 in November to 10 in December it is the tension in communities that is a worrying indicator. As elections draw closer and primary elections take centre stage these ructions will not die down rather they are expected to be the rationale likely to be used for those who will get the mandate to represent the party. Surprisingly many cases were recorded in Midlands and Masvingo where the triumphant faction had the most influence. Two cases were recorded in Mashonaland Central where former Zanu PF Political Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and the former First Lady Grace Mugabe had influence. Cases recorded by ZPP where there were factional overtones in Zanu PF food distribution, land distribution and allocation and in the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). The fact that intra party conflict was only recorded in Zanu PF in December does by any means mean that it has been eradicated in other political parties.
Speaking of the BVR exercise cases of citizens being forced to hand over continue to be recorded. While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has confirmed that the noting down of the serial numbers of registrants has no effect when it comes to people’s choices ZPP is still concerned that those who are doing this are being given a free reign resulting in citizens being instilled with fear. It is sad that in some communities traditional leaders continue to use this fear instilling strategy. In the cases that ZPP shared with ZEC we have been told they were handed to the police for investigations.
Harassment and intimidation cases took a nose dive to 74 from 120. There was a sharp increase in assault with 21 violations, and a decrease in discriminations with 12 and then theft/looting with 7. Manicaland had the highest recorded violations for December with 38, followed by Mashonaland Central with 29, and Harare with 15. The violations in December as noted here are nothing out of the ordinary in previous years. After the Zanu PF annual conference or congress violations tend to go down as most Zimbabweans get into the festive season and 2017 was no different regardless of the new ‘order.’ Food violations have not been that many considering a good last season and some had already started enjoying fruits from their fields if they planted early.
Complaints against the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) continued to rise. Most of the cases happened before the withdrawal of the military as Commander Valerio Sibanda announced the end of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ on 18 December 2017. The ZNA made up almost thirty seven percent (36, 3%) of the violations and the Zimbabwe Republic Police was responsible for twenty five percent (24, 6%) of the cases. The military was more active in the areas that G-40 had more influence such as Mashonaland Central, Harare and Manicaland particularly Chimanimani where Manicaland former Chairperson Samuel Undenge hails from. There was a sharp decrease in violations perpetrated by Zanu PF activists.
The month of December saw the curtain come down on Operation Restore Legacy which had started on 15 November. Members of the army who had become a common site on the country’s roads were withdrawn. This came as human rights abuses perpetrated by soldiers against civilians increased and they are still to be investigated.
Ray of hope
There have been messages of peace and reconciliation from key political figures raising hopes that this may help towards fighting polarization and also promote tolerance. President Mnangagwa has called for peace and forgiveness while War Veterans Secretary General Victor Matemadanda has asked for tolerance describing the political arena as a market place of ideas where people win or lose through their ideas. These pronouncements are encouraging as the nation gears for the 2018 elections.
However there have been arrests of activists on charges of undermining the authority of the President. Some of these activists have been allegedly assaulted by ruling Zanu PF activists who claim to be defending President Mnangagwa. A worrying trend of Zanu PF taking matters in its own hands threatens peace especially as the 2018 elections approach.
- The President and his government are encouraged to continue to speak about peace
- Zanu PF to impress on its supporters to stop fomenting factional tensions in communities especially as the elections draw near
- ZEC to take stern measures to stop the practice of demanding serial numbers if it is illegal the law should take its course
- The cases in which the military took part should be investigated and the necessary sanctions taken against perpetrators
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project