Two major events helped to shape the political climate and human rights situation in the country in April. These were the Independence Day celebrations and the ZanuPF primary elections at the end of the month. The Independence Day celebrations resulted in a marked rise in incidents of coercion as ZanuPF officials in different parts of the country forced members of the public to make donations for the celebrations. The ruling party’s primary elections on the other hand accounted for a noticeable rise in cases of intraparty squabbling and occasional violence as aspiring candidates competed for nomination. The primaries also accounted for the rise in cases of intimidation and harassment as members of the public were forced to attend ruling party meetings, were forced to go and vote, or as candidates were imposed on them. There was needless loss of life and a compromise of people’s rights to health after government failed to deal with the nurses’ strike in a constructive manner. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga unexpectedly fired all the nurses on industrial action and this worsened the plight of patients in health facilities. The reason for firing the striking nurses was that there was a political agenda to the whole industrial action. It must have been seen as deepening the factions within Zanu PF and the need to silenceG40 elements linked to the former first family. The former president is the patron of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association. This thinking emanates from the marked difference between the doctors and the nurses’ strike all protesting for better working conditions and equipment and other sundries to make their quest to deliver better health a reality.
Observations from the evidence gathered
One hundred and two cases were recorded across the country in April, remaining the same from the previous month (101). Twenty three of the cases related to general intimidation and harassment as members of the public were being forced to attend party meeting, mainly ZanuPF meeting; being threatened not to support the opposition or to attend opposition rallies; or being intimidated into supporting ZanuPF.
Eighteen other cases of intimidation and harassment, associated with the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process, were also recorded. In these cases, members of the public were being forced to provide their voter registration particulars to ZanuPF officials. Beyond intimidation the motive remains unclear, and suspicious. A leaked audio between an officer of the police and a ZanuPF official in Buhera, Manicaland where the police officer was stating the illegality of demanding voter registration information demonstrated how some elements in ZanuPF still lived in the past. The ZanuPF official was livid on realising that the police officer did not wish to entertain his standpoint on the demand for voter registration information.
Twenty cases of coercion, mainly forced donations for the Independence Day celebrations, and some cases of forced attendances of ZanuPF rallies or forced participation in the party’s primary elections, were also recorded. Of concern in the primaries among many incidents was the firing of gunshots by a sitting MP Dexter Nduna in a bid to break a fight between his supporters and those of another contestant at a polling station in Chegutu West and another sitting MP accused of possession of filled in ballot papers in Buhera. Twenty cases of intraparty squabbling and occasional violence, mainly within ZanuPF, were also recorded and, as indicated earlier, could be traced directly to the ruling party’s primary elections. By comparison, only 5 cases of interparty violence, mainly pitting ZanuPF and the MDC-T, were recorded.
Five cases of assault, four of which involved the police or the army, were also recorded in what appears to be growing indiscipline and unruly conduct in the security sector. Two incidents of hate speech were recorded and one case of murder. The murder case was however entirely of a criminal nature and related to the shooting of a suspected robber.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project