Silenced! Documenting how Zimbabweans Continue to Lose Their Voice in the Face of Mounting Repression

Executive Summary

In September, Zimbabwe turned the corner and joined, full time, the dark list of the world’s repressive regimes, where citizens are reduced to nothing but subjects who are not party to deciding how the country is run in sharp contrast to the tenets of democracy and good governance.

As has been the case for the past six months, government continued to use Covid-19 as an excuse to stifle rights and freedoms guaranteed by the supreme law, and as evidenced by the nature of human rights violations this month, the violations went a notch up and were more than ever before, systematic and methodical. In the month of September, there were no more attempts to present a false face of democracy and this is evidenced by the following developments recorded in September, some of which had started earlier.

The growing feeling that judicial independence is being whittled down to such an extent that it is a weapon to persecute by prosecution, dissenting voices. The arbitrary/unlawful/political arrests, abductions, torture, harassment and intimidation that heightened in April, were widely used in May, June and July, and fine-tuned in August and September.

The continued neglect of social services rendered the country’s health, education and social welfare and services sectors completely incapacitated. More than ever before, access to healthcare, water, stable income, food security, and other social services was a critical human rights issue in the country. While the Zimbabwe dollar remained stable against the US dollar through the auction system, the majority of Zimbabweans remained in poverty, with their disposal income remaining very low, and the food insecurity unabated.

The strengthening of the ruling Zanu PF community level intimidation of opposition political and human rights activists left communities much more scared of their own government. This is made worse by the continued presence of state security agents in the streets and villages, who, under the guise of enforcing Covid-19 regulations, flagrantly and with impunity suppressed basic rights. The instruments of repression remained well oiled, vigilant, and ready to strike.

With the Zimbabwean crisis having entered a stage where it became a concern for neighbouring countries, the regional body SADC, the African Union, the United Nations and the international community in general, the Government of Zimbabwe and ruling party has remained aloof, disregarding the growing calls for process facilitation to solve the crisis and get Zimbabwe back onto the path to democracy, good governance and economic prosperity. Zimbabweans were once again on their own, presided over by a government that is in the habit of preying on its citizens.

Evidence of these four key events in September is highlighted in this month’s statistics of human rights violations, where the army, police, Zanu PF and municipal police contributed to a combined 74.9 percent of human rights violations.

For seven successive months, state security agents remain the leading perpetrators of human rights violations.

Disaggregated, the police contributed the highest percentage at 31.03, followed by Zanu PF at 15.61 percent, the army at 13.83 percent and the municipal police at 10.87 percent, while unspecified state agents contributed to 3.56 percent. The MDC Alliance contributed 1.58 percent and MDC-T Khupe was in the same region at 1.19 percent attributable to the conflict between the two factions. The affiliation of 22.33 percent of the perpetrators was unknown.

Men contributed to the most human rights violations at 88.98 percent compared to 8.46 percent women.

ZPP recorded five cases of killings , three cases of attempted murder and three cases of abduction.

In September, there were 23 cases of assault, 11 incidents of unlawful detention, two cases of torture and 81 cases of harassment and intimidation.

ZPP continues to note with great concern that the large number of the human rights violations recorded in September and prior to that are attributable to state affiliated agents and/or institutions, and this presents what is an apparent regression of Zimbabwe into a crisis.

Read the full report here (2MB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project