February, “the month of love” witnessed Zimbabwe endeavouring to recover from the January protests and state retaliation and crackdown on alleged protestors and human rights defenders.
ZPP documented 196 human rights violations for February 2019. This is a marked decrease from the January 2019 figure of 668. Approximately 62% of the recorded violations for February were of harassment, intimidation and threats. In the urban centres, police together with the army and municipal police continued their crackdown on illegal vending sites destroying stalls and structures while confiscating goods. In Harare, soldiers also assaulted civilians in a door-to-door operation in Dzivarasekwa around 11pm on 7 February for unclear reasons. Assaults constituted 10% of the violations recorded, discrimination 9%, theft/looting 6% and abduction 3%. Harare province continued with the highest violations for February with 46, followed by Mashonaland Central with 34, Midlands 31 and Mashonaland East with 23. In Harare assaults by military personnel were noted, comedians and human rights defenders were arrested, and legislators threatened each other in Parliament.
In the month of February ZPP recorded fewer violations and these were attributed to the sudden lull in military led retribution which saw many citizens assaulted, harassed and at worst psychologically traumatized, leaving indelible scars of fear. Zanu PF activists whose names have been withheld also carried out the military led retribution with the aim of disciplining protestors alleged to be a progeny of MDC Alliance members. This follows the utterances of the President at rallies to conduct witch hunts and crackdowns on CSOs and activists. A number of members in the opposition MDC Alliance were still in hiding, fearing attacks and charges that maybe laid on them. Following the utterances of the President, Non-governmental organizations have been forced by circumstances to cancel some of their programming, as a result; the operating space has become volatile and unsafe for most programming. The MDC Alliance party is set to hold its congress in May 2019, with a view of resolving internal legitimacy as there has been a lot of talk about the constitutionality of Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of the party. Factionalism has reared its ugly head especially in Bulawayo province where members are either demonstrating their support of either Chamisa or Douglas Mwonzora. The latter has been accused of being used by Zanu PF against Chamisa. Such, traits of factionalism were witnessed in the upcoming by election in ward 28 where there were 2 candidates positioned for the same council seat, the by-election is set for the end of March 2019. Pressure groups like Mthwakazi continue to lobby and challenge the Independent Commissions to act on human rights violations accusing them of failure to bring to book culprits of these violations.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project
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