This report focuses on the period, July 1 to July 13. Instances of political violence will be discussed with specific reference to the interparty and intraparty conflicts which is currently at play in almost all political parties. The number of cases reported in the period under review remain on a high, considering that this is just over two weeks in July and the efforts that are being invested in fostering a peaceful election.
The first two weeks of July have seen a deviation from the political party code by most of the political parties particularly those who were involved in the signing of the Peace Pledge supported by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. The political party code classifies political violence as, among other things, use of violence or threatening violence against someone, encouraging of violence against a group of people, intimidating or inciting of violence against anyone, acting in a way that may provoke violence, forcing voters to reveal who they voted for or reprisals against a voter who has voted in a particular way. Violence can also be through song, speech or dance that is provocative, defacing and removal of posters or any other property related to elections. It also includes displaying weapons during political gatherings.
A total of 71 violations have been recorded in the period 1 to 13 July compared to 101 violations recorded during the same period in the month of June. This is a high figure considering that elections are less than 14 days away. Intolerance has been at the heart of most of these violations and the fight for political positions in political parties.
Interparty violence which had mainly manifested itself in verbal altercations and hate speech has escalated. In Epworth there have been two cases of inter party violence. The first one involved Zanu PF candidate Kudakwashe Damson’s supporters clashing with the supporters of expelled Zalera Makhari. The second one involved an activist campaigning for a candidate in the Thokozani Khupe MDC-T being attacked by activists in the MDC Alliance for selling out. These are incidents of violence as a result of unresolved internal strife during primary elections. Civil society practitioner and MDC-T activist Maureen Kademaunga joined the list of those using hate speech when she likened Zanu PF members to cockroaches that needed to be exterminated on 30 July. The imagery of exterminating rivals is usually likened to what happened in the Rwandan genocide. A day later, she realised her mistake and apologised something which leaders need to adopt.
As campaigning intensifies some cases of partisan food aid have been reported. Zanu PF activists and traditional leaders have been implicated in these practices. In Norton, a food distribution exercise was aborted after Christopher Mutsvangwa supporters clashed with Temba Mliswa’s supporters over disagreements on who should distribute the aid. This clearly shows that there is a tendency to gain political mileage using food aid. The dispute also sucked in traditional leaders.
Atmosphere of fear
The Zimbabwe Peace Project recorded reports of terrified citizens based on two main issues. The first main source of fear are the messages that voters received on their mobiles asking them to vote for Zanu PF. The bone of contention by the terrified citizens is that they did not give their mobile telephone numbers to Zanu PF and they are perplexed as to how the party knew the areas they stay in correct to the constituency. After all the BVR threats, some villagers fear that they are under surveillance and their vote will not be secret. The second source of fear is unresolved cases of violence in some communities. In Mashonaland West a family is living in fear after their mother was killed. On the face of it, it seemed like a hit and run incident but failure by police to sufficiently investigate and provide a satisfactory postmortem has led the family to think the murder could have been politically motivated. The woman Laiza Marimo was running community programmes that were aiding independent candidate Temba Mliswa and the family alleges that might have angered Mliswa’s rival in the contest for Norton Christopher Mutsvangwa. The woman was allegedly threatened several times by Mutsvangwa’s campaign team.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project
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