Political and Human Rights Violations Report, April to September 2020


Zimbabwe has an unenviable history of gross human rights violations and Organised Violence and Torture (OVT), and the history of the country, both pre and post-Independence in 1980, is a sequence of OVT followed by impunity. Every period has been documented by civil society and church organisations, but the period since 1998 has been documented in enormous detail. The preponderance of the data on gross human rights violations and OVT has been provided by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the “Human Rights Forum), but also verified by the independent reports of Amnesty International, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), and Human Rights Watch, amongst many others. It can be said with considerable pride that the Human Rights Forum has left no stone unturned in its efforts to counter human rights abuses, seek accountability for these, and provide redress for the victims and survivors.

Against this background, there were high hopes after the removal of Robert Mugabe in the  2017 coup, that the “new dispensation” would reverse this trend, but, as the Human Rights Forum pointed out in 2019, this was a forlorn hope. The mounting evidence is rather that things are incrementally getting worse, and this is the focus of this report, the situation in 2020. 

The human rights, socio-economic and political context in Zimbabwe have continued to deteriorate between the period of April 2020 to September 2020. Citizens continued to be  haunted by unremitting State-sponsored violence, carried out with impunity against a backdrop of inadequate infrastructure and insufficient political will to deal with the violence. Since 2017,  the daily deployment of armed soldiers in suburbs, towns, growth points and every street corner  in the central business district has been a constant worry for civil society organisations and human rights defenders.  

Human rights violations, primarily abductions, torture, assault and unlawful arrest of journalists, human rights defenders and opposition party activists, are also on the increase. The  Zimbabwe National Army, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Central Intelligence  Organisation have been identified as the major perpetrators of these heinous crimes. 

Presently, the nation is experiencing a high inflationary environment wherein income is being eroded and many are living in abject poverty.4 Labour movements and citizens exercising their rights to demonstrate and petition face assault and unlawful arrests, and are subject to cycles of structural violence. The State has continued to respond to dissent through unwarranted attacks on civil society organisations, the church and opposition parties. Toxic politics that is characterised by hate speech, intolerance and disregard for the will of the people remained the order of the day in the period under review. 

Many of the violations recorded from April 2020 to September 2020 were in the form of harassment and intimidation. The reports made ran the gamut from assault, torture, harassment,  intimidation, malicious damage to property, partisan distribution of food and farming implements and arbitrary arrests. The total number of recorded national politically motivated human rights violations for the period under consideration is one thousand and forty (1 202). The violations were predominantly perpetrated by members of the ZNA, ZRP and certain  ZANU-PF personnel. The violations occurred in all 10 provinces, but more particularly so in  Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Harare, Bulawayo and Midlands.

Read the full report here (363KB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum)

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