The tensions between the G40 and Lacoste factions of Zanu PF seem to be continuing in communities with no easy solution in sight. From reports received in the month under review citizens perceived to be G40 are being targeted in all manner and sorts. When former Vice President Joice Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF citizens perceived to have been her supporters suffered abuse to the extent of being denied food and other aid when distributions were conducted in communities. History seems to be repeating itself with G40 loyalists. Food aid should not be used to settle political scores rather standards for food aid distributions should be followed. Tensions are also growing between aspiring candidates as primary elections draw closer. The situation does not bode well as primary elections are due soon. It is in the best interest of Zanu PF to arrest the growing situation so that when primary elections happen issues dividing communities that have the potential of threatening peace are addressed.
While the opposition MDC-T is wriggled in leadership challenges at the helm these are still to be experienced at the local level. The peaceful conduct of primary elections are hinged on political parties formulating regulations that will reduce conflict and give all party supporters the opportunity to enjoy free, fair and credible elections.
The mantra for free, fair and credible elections in 2018 will remain rhetoric unless steps are taken to arrest the growing tensions in political parties in particular Zanu PF where those labelled enemies are being abused.
Contrary to the belief that political leaders cannot guarantee violence free elections, they actually can. Political leaders can ensure that perpetrators account for their actions a clear message of zero tolerance to political and/or electoral violence.
Minimum demands for zero tolerance to all forms of violence in elections 2018:
- Create an enabling political environment free from intimidation, harassment and threats conducive for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2018
- Enforce measures for perpetrators to account for their actions to eliminate political and/or electoral violence
- Establish and enforce the operationalisation of investigative committees and multi-party liaison committees
- Desist using hate language and slogans that perpetuate conflict and avoid using food and other aid to influence the electorate
- Stop traditional leaders, and security agents from instilling fear in the electorate and encourage the establishment of electoral resolution mechanisms
There was a 24% increase of violations from 186 cases in December to 245 violations in January. The majority of violations were around the forced surrender of voter registration slips to record serial numbers by mostly Zanu PF members and activists. Traditional leaders who according to section 281 of the Constitution are supposed to be partisan have been willing accomplices in this practice. Pronouncements by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the elections will be held ‘earlier’ than July 2018 have resulted in intense jostling and positioning to gain an advantage in the electoral field by candidates and escalated the demand for serial numbers on voter slips.
From the time the ZPP started recording these cases 15 were recorded in October, 24 in November, 20 in December and 40 in January. The serial numbers saga has continued in most parts of the country unabated making the political environment non conducive as the electorate is subjected to massive intimidation. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) acting chairperson Emmanuel Magade condemned the practice too little too late. The practice has played out from the onset of the Biometric Voter Registration exercise started in September 2017 with the unfortunate consequences some citizens actually think it’s the standard and in the process Zanu PF has been allowed to justify these acts. The lack of information on the practice has left victims resigned to their fate and give tales of the futility of resisting as they not received any protection. In some communities ZEC has been used as the authority demanding the recording of serial numbers and in other cases citizens have been told to leave registration slips for safe keeping. The practice is widespread and it has been systematic in the manner that it has been conducted. The concern however is the lukewarm response of ZEC and the link that is noted between Zanu PF cell structures and the demand for recording of serial numbers. The concept of the book of life are being subjected to speaks to some judgement to happen in the future and opens floodgates for acts of violence and the instilling of fear in the electorate all of which are not foundations for free, fair and credible elections.
Harassment and intimidation cases increased in January to 169 recorded violations, followed by an increase in discrimination with 57 violations. There is a decrease in cases of assault with 6 and theft/looting with 8. Manicaland had the highest recorded violations for January with 62, followed closely by Mashonaland Central with 60 and Masvingo with 38. Discrimination cases have increased as the country has entered the rainy season and those tasked with distributing government inputs are doing so in a partisan manner favouring supporters of the ruling party. The councillors who are responsible for distribution are party functionaries and engage in this practice to protect their positions. In Mashonaland Central violations are mainly intra-party with members of the G40 faction being targeted as this province was the stronghold of the G40. The growing conflict between the factions in Zanu PF and in particular the punitive measures perceived G40 loyalists are facing is a cause for concern.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project