The month of April heralded 39 years since attaining independence. Sadly, this independence is not evident as Zimbabweans are living in a country with a biting economic environment characterised by sharp increases in prices, evictions, impunity of those in power and deprivation along political lines.
The most prominent violations, and sadly an annual occurrence, during the month of April were surrounding the Independence Day celebrations. People were forced into making donations towards Independence celebrations and in some instances marshalled to go for the celebrations held throughout the country by various Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) structures.
The economy has continued on a downward spiral as the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar rate keeps tumbling against the United States dollar (USD) both in the official and parallel market rates. This is further exacerbated by the fact that service providers have resorted to pegging their prices in USD which currency the majority of Zimbabweans do not even earn. Prices of basic commodities such as fuel, bread and cooking oil continue to rise beyond the reach of many.
There is a disquieting trend of the military’s continued interference in civilian matters, particularly in perpetrating violations against civilians. ZPP notes that since November 2017 when the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) played a prominent role in the elevation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to office, there has been a steady rise of human rights violations that the army is responsible for. This was most apparent when the force brutally stamped dissent in 1 August 2018 fatal shootings and January 2019 killings. ZPP also notes that the month was characterised by extensive evictions in some parts of the country with over 1200 families left homeless.
Loss and destruction of property was prevalent as people’s houses and property was destroyed in the evictions-where oftentimes victims were not given prior notice.
There was a slight decrease in violations recorded throughout the country from 212 recorded in March to 171 in April. The percentage of cases of discrimination for example decreased from 16.9% recorded in March to 5.3%; an 11.6% decrease. This decrease could be explained by the fact that there was a shift of focus as perpetrators concentrated on gathering donations for the Independence Day celebrations. This saw a 5.1% increase in cases of intimidation and harassment in April. Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces recorded the highest number of cases with 44 and 28 respectively. This was a drop from 56 violations recorded in March in Mashonaland Central and 23 cases reported in Mashonaland East. intimidation and harassment presumably related to donations sought for Independence Day celebrations was the main contributor of violations followed by discrimination in the distribution of food aid.
On the other hand Matabeleland regions and Bulawayo as is usually the case, again recorded the least number of violations. Matabeleland South and Bulawayo recorded 2 violations each, while Matabeleland North had a single recorded case. These numbers reflect a further drop in violations from the 6 recorded in Bulawayo and 5 noted in Matabeleland North. However, Matabeleland South’s two violations were an increase from the single case reported in the previous month. For both the high and low statistics recorded in the provinces, intimidation and harassment are the most prominent violations. The low number of cases recorded in these provinces could be because of historical experiences that unite the people. On the other hand the divisions in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces are a result of political contestations that lead to conflict.
Zanu PF played a prominent role in the victimisation of Cyclone Idai survivors. For example, in Masvingo Province, Gutu North Ward 8, the committee set up by the ruling party to distribute aid to families affected by the cyclone have stopped doing so and instead are distributing aid to party members. The committee is led by ward councillor Tamson Chindedza of Zanu PF (52). Other members are one Gutuza (46), Farai Chenjerai (48) and Chiedza Mabhachi (56). The committee members gave victims wrong dates and by the time they gathered to receive the aid, they had already shared it among themselves.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project