Of extension cords and poisoned chalices – August Monthly Monitoring Report

/Executive Summary

Five hundred and seven out of 745 of the victims were male while 238 were female. Four hundred and eighty six of the 546 perpetrators were male. Amongst the perpetrators this month were soldiers who were accused of assaulting police officers in the Central Business District of Harare.

Most of the violations recorded were towards the Heroes Day Holiday. It has become a trend that violations peak during key events that are meant to be national which end up political and associated with the Zanu PF party. It was encouraging to note that in the month under review the two main political leaders, President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai spoke out against violence perpetrated by their supporters. Tsvangirai took further action by suspending those implicated. Although President Mugabe condemned violence perpetrated by a group associated with his party he also directed that the perpetrators be attacked violently before being handed to the police. Violence of any form should be condemned regardless of who perpetrates it. This has not yielded the desired results as those he chided have been implicated in more violence in the party. President Mugabe further worsened issues by declaring that those who killed white farmers would not face prosecution. This is likely to increase impunity among his supporters.

The majority perpetrators of human rights violations in August are associated with Zanu PF in one way or the other 81,2% of the reported cases).The opposition MDC-T was responsible for 5,9% of the cases. Security agents that include the police, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) were responsible for a combined 11,4%. War veterans have not featured prominently as perpetrators in the last few months. This may be due to the falling out of the war veterans body with the ruling Zanu PF party.

Out of the 8 intra-party cases of violence recorded in August, 7 were recorded in the ruling Zanu PF party while only one case was recorded in the opposition MDC-T. This may be due to the factional succession battles playing out in the ruling party, which have degenerated into open conflict heightened during this month by accusations of ‘poisoning’ Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a youth interface rally in Gwanda. It is possible there might have been more than one case of conflict within the MDC-T as for most of the other cases there have been hushed voices and could manifest to haunt the party in the future.

Freedom of expression came under attack as political activists were arrested for expressing their opinions on social media or harassed for donning regalia that was seen as poking fun at the ‘first family’. Section (61) of the constitution says every person has the right to freedom of expression which includes freedom of artistic expression and scientific research, creativity. The arrest of war veteran Victor Matemadanda, which he believes was triggered by a T-shirt ridiculed First Lady Grace Mugabe is an affront to freedom of expression. Another Zanu PF supporter Energy Mutodi was also picked up by police for expressing his opinion on Facebook. He was subsequently beaten up by known Zanu PF activists while on bail.

Intra-party violence was also recorded in the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) when Vice President Thokozani Khupe and other party stalwarts in Bulawayo had their meeting disrupted by party youths who were unhappy with her decision to stay away from the MDC Alliance signing ceremony. Violence erupted and Khupe had to seek medical attention. Some high ranking party official celebrated the political intolerance and attack on Khupe and party president Morgan Tsvangirai subsequently suspended party members who were implicated.

Heroes Day Commemorations were not a cause for celebration for many people as they found themselves being ordered to bankroll the festivities against their will. The commemorations which are supposed to be national events have been usurped by ruling party activists who take the opportunity to mobilise for their party and in the process intimidated and harassed unwilling citizens. Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs said they do not have a policy of fundraising for national events from citizens. However, there were reports that in schools and other government departments civil servants were ordered to contribute as memos went round asking civil servants to contribute for the celebrations. Factional ruptures also manifested themselves at the National Heroes Acre when Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was heckled by alleged Lacoste faction supporters who did not want the Vice President to officiate at Shuvai Mahofa’s funeral. Tempers flared after Mahofa was said to have been poisoned at the party national conference in Victoria Falls in 2015. Accusations and counter accusations disrupted the funeral wake of the late Mahofa believed to be an ally of Vice President Mnangagwa. The ZPP is apprehensive this state of affairs does not bode well for the 2018 in the horizon unless resolved.

There was conflict between police and soldiers in Harare on 1 August. Police released a press statement saying the security forces enjoy good relations and the matter would be investigated. President Mugabe also expressed regret over the issue on Heroes Day. A number of reasons have been put forward for the clash. Some believe traffic police had put a spike on a vehicle belonging to a soldier. Police and soldiers have been known to run transport businesses in the CBD, which the police commissioner has admitted to in the past. Sometimes they fight for lucrative pick up points and touts told ZPP that they pay protection fees to some members of the security forces and this might have been the reason for the violence that ensued.

On August 30 the world commemorated the UN International Day of the victims of enforced disappearances. In Zimbabwe Paul Chizuze and Itai Dzamara since February 2012 and March 2015 are still unaccounted for and it seems the government is not moved by this state of affairs. The Zimbabwean government has still not ratified the International Convention of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances and with the 2018 elections on the horizon and the many conflicts within and across political parties there is a risk more citizens could meet this fate.

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project

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