Height of Intolerance! Monthly Monitoring Report – November 2020

Executive Summary

In his book, The Story of My Life, first published in 1984, the late nationalist and Vice President of Zimbabwe, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, wrote, “What matters is that the leadership should encourage diverse opinions to be heard – the opinions of different social groups, different economic interests, different social groups… But far too many leaders have come to believe that their own interests and those of the people are the same. They confuse self-preservation with national security, and to preserve their own regimes throw the safeguards of the law and of individuals’ rights out of the window. When the rights of the individual – even of a few individuals – are suppressed, there cannot be respect for the rights of the people as a whole. The State begins to govern against its citizens, rather than with them…”

36 years after this was written, and more than 21 years after Nkomo’s death, the dream of a leadership that musters the collective energy of Zimbabweans towards development, is still to be realised. What exists is, in the words of Nkomo, energy being “dissipated by government which seems to feel the need to exercise a partisan authority rather than to mobilise the national will.”

This is all evident in the human rights violations the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) recorded throughout the month of November, which confirm a growing pattern of government’s disregard of the socioeconomic, and civil and political rights of ordinary citizens.

In November, there was a continuation of partisan distribution of agricultural inputs under the government’s Pfumvudza input scheme, biased hand-out of food aid from the government’s social welfare department, as well as the open bias in court processes and the escalation of the stifling of alternative voices, in politics, media and civil society and other spaces.

In addition, ZPP, in November, documented a growing water crisis, largely in urban centres, and increased vulnerability of people due to the economic challenges. To buttress this are the statistics of human rights violations, where, out of the 226 incidents recorded, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) contributed 30.65 percent of the perpetrators while Zanu PF accounted for 18.48 percent, followed by the municipal police at 8.7 percent and five percent by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA). The affiliation of 34.75 percent of the perpetrators remained unknown, raising fears over the non-existence of a sense of personal security in the country, where the ordinary people are vulnerable, with no effective protection from human rights violations. The two factions, which are in a State-aided, bitter fight over the control of the biggest opposition political party, the MDC, contributed a combined 2.17 percent of the violations whereas the war veterans contributed 0.43 percent of perpetrators recorded.

It must be noted that entities linked to the State and the ruling party, which are, the ZRP, Zanu PF, ZNA, war veterans, and municipal police, contributed a combined 63.26 percent of perpetrators of human rights violations recorded in November. Topping the list of incidents were 118 cases of intimidation and harassment attributed largely to the police and the army, followed by 45 cases of discrimination during aid distribution and 21 cases of assault and eight cases of unlawful detention.

In November, ZPP recorded two cases of killings, one in Harare and the other in Mazowe, where miners were buried alive as shall be detailed in the case files in this report.

In the past six months, Harare recorded the highest number of human rights violations and this was due to the tight lockdown enforcement by State security agents, who took advantage of their heavy street presence to stifle human rights and clamp down on dissent to protect the government. But this November, the statistics shifted and there were more violations in other provinces, mostly the ruling party strongholds and this was due to the intensification of the distribution of inputs under the Pfumvudza input scheme, and once again, the handouts were issued in a partisan manner. Topping the list of human rights violations is Masvingo, with 43 cases, followed by Mashonaland West at 36 and Mashonaland Central at 34.

Elsewhere, the Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube presented the 2021 National Budget, which proposed more taxation on the already hard-pressed Zimbabweans.

In light of these trends, the month of November 2020 – the third year of President Mnangagwa’s leadership – marked yet another low moment for Zimbabwe’s human rights record, and as has been in the past months, the ordinary people have been on their own.

Read the full report here (2MB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project