Introduction and Statistical Analysis
The primary elections in the two main political parties, Zanu PF and the MDC-T, continued to shape political events in May. (The MDC-T held its primary elections in May, while for Zanu PF, they were mainly re-runs. Zanu PF’s primaries were in April). The primary elections nearly defined all the incidents of human rights violations in the month. Of the 81 cases that were recorded in May, almost a 20 percent decrease from the previous month where 102 cases were recorded – over 75 percent of the cases were directly connected to the primary elections. These included incidents of intraparty violence; political victimisation, intimidation and harassment; coercion and discrimination. It should be noted that a single case recorded can have multiple human rights violations perpetrated.
Twenty four cases of intraparty political violence, mainly in the MDC-T, were recorded in May. In contrast, there were only two cases of interparty political violence between Zanu PF and the MDC-T. There were 22 incidents of victimisation, intimidation and harassment, mainly by Zanu PF and mainly against unsuspecting villagers and opposition or perceived opposition members or supporters. Seven cases of discrimination involving the politicisation and partisan distribution of food aid by Zanu PF local officials were also recorded, as well as four cases of coercion mainly involving Zanu PF and relating to forced meetings and forced donations, and two incidents of incitement to violence and hate speech. The other cases recorded were of a non-political nature and related to general violence, including the severe beating of civilians by members of Zimbabwe National Army in Kariba; corrupt and criminal practices by public officials; and violations of the right to education and other children’s rights. Ten cases of school children who were sent back home for school fees were recorded, as was one case of statutory rape and another of school children draped in Zanu PF regalia – ostensibly forced to attend a political gathering or to take part in political activities.
Effectively, intraparty violence and incidents of political victimisation, intimidation and harassment defined the month of May, accounting for almost 57 percent of the violations recorded. The incidents were for the most part localised and targeted at political opponents and their supporters in the primaries. Some of the recorded incidents included fist fights, poll disruptions, destruction of property, and so on. In Midlands, a case involving the abduction of a suspected Zanu PF spy by MDC-T officials was recorded, while three cases involving the use of a firearm were also recorded. In Chegutu, the sitting Member of Parliament reportedly fired a gun during skirmishes over Zanu PF primary elections, while in Bulawayo, an MDC-T councillor allegedly threatened to shoot rival supporters, and in Kuwadzana, an aspiring MDC-T parliamentary candidate reportedly moved around with a gun to intimidate rivals.
By provinces, Manicaland had the highest number of violations with 15 cases; half of which related to intraparty violence and victimisation. Harare province and Mashonaland both recorded 13 cases of violations. In Harare, nearly half the cases were related to intraparty violence owing to the primary elections, while in Mashonaland Central nearly half related to victimisation, intimidation and harassment. The Matebeleland provinces on the other hand had the lowest incidents of violations, with two cases of intraparty political violence recorded in Bulawayo, two cases of victimisation in Matebeleland North and no recorded case in Matebeleland South.
In relation to the politically motivated cases, most of the violations were targeted at political opponents, either in relation to the primaries or across the MDC-T/Zanu PF divide. A few cases of intimidation by Zanu PF members were however recorded against National People’s Party (NPP) supporters. The perpetrators of the violations were predominantly male and were mainly at a localised level although there were instances involving senior officials like sitting or aspiring Members of Parliament or councillors. Local leaders, especially village heads continued to be implicated in partisan conduct, including victimisation, intimidation and harassment. In relation to the non-political cases, although isolated, ZNA officials continued to be implicated in cases of public assault, while public officials were also implicated in corrupt or criminal conduct, including theft of livestock and the misappropriation of food aid.
The victims of the violations, likewise, were mainly localised and were either political rivals within the same party, members of the opposition or members of the public, especially the rural folk. The villagers were mostly prone to victimisation, intimidation and harassment, coercion and discrimination, especially at the hands of Zanu PF officials or traditional leaders at their respective local levels. City dwellers on the other hand suffered intraparty violence the most.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project