The April edition of ZPP’S monthly monitoring report examines the social, political and economic dynamics affecting the realisation of human rights in Zimbabwe with focus on the post-by-election period where we have seen opposition political party supporters being hounded by traditional leaders and supporters of the ruling party. Also explored is the perennial public transport crisis. Read on!
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party was responsible for violating the majority of human rights across the country. ZPP recorded 165 incidents in which the ruling party was responsible. In the majority of these incidents, Zanu PF supporters were hounding people they suspected had supported the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in the run up to the March 26 by- election. In the by-elections, the CCC- formed towards the end of January- put up a noteworthy show , grabbing 18 out of the 26 contested House of Assembly seats, a situation that appeared to have unsettled Zanu PF, which immediately launched what appears to be a systematic onslaught on those who had campaigned for, supported or sympathized with the CCC in the run up to the election.
Since Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold a general election by July 30, 2023, the March 26 by-elections were a test of what might be expected next year. ZPP can confirm the existence of Zanu PF structures meant to intimidate and silence people in rural areas ahead of the 2023 elections and this is more prevalent in Mashonaland East, Central and West provinces, where the organization has recorded a combined 77 cases. A few examples include an incident in Murehwa North, where a Zanu PF Councillor Masimba Gumira gathered villagers to celebrate his victory in the 26 March by-elections. He then ordered the punishment of anyone seen wearing yellow which is the colour of the CCC. He threatened the loss of life of those who might want to deviate from voting for his party.
“Watichaona akapfeka hembe dzeyellow tichamuita kafira mberi (We will beat to death anyone we see wearing yellow)” said Gumira. Gumira’s words cannot be taken as bluffing as people have been killed in the past for simply associating with the opposition. To confirm the systematic nature of the closing down of space for the opposition, particularly the CCC, in another incident, Zanu PF Chairperson Takesure Kashesha told party supporters at Duku Business Centre in Ward 10, Murehwa North, to create a no-go zone for CCC supporters in the area. Kashesha ordered youths to mount road blocks and burn any unknown or CCC vehicles attempting to enter Ward 10. “Mota ichapinda muno yatisingazivi tichaipisa (You must burn any unidentified vehicle that attempts to drive into Ward 10),” he said. In Mashonaland West, a man was evicted from the butchery premises he was renting for hosting a CCC supporters’ braai at the butchery premises and in Murehwa South, a Zanu PF supporter made death threats to a woman who had observed elections under the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe.
One Ricky Chiwara told the female observer that by participating in elections, she was part of the regime change agenda by nongovernmental organisations. This unfortunate incident not only confirmed the toxicity of the political environment for women, but also highlighted the deep-seated attempt by the Zanu PF government to cripple the good work of NonGovernmental Organisations.
Through the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill (PVO Bill), government seeks to, among other things, stifle the work of civil society organisations which have so far done a great job holding authorities to account and supplementing government efforts through various community projects. As Zanu PF went into full election mode, its officials forced villagers to contribute to Independence Day celebrations or risk being ‘blacklisted as opposition supporters.’
At Dotito Township, at a meeting co-hosted by Zanu PF officials Edwin Sigudu and Mike Murasira Sigudu ordered village heads to collect money from villagers for the Independence Day celebrations. “Make sure you write down the names of those who do not give you money so that we know our sell-outs.” In Buhera West the legislator, Soul Dzuma of Zanu PF, while addressing a rally, said those in his constituency who did not attend Zanu PF meetings were going to be removed from the list of beneficiaries of government aid from the Department of Social Welfare (DSW).
ZPP spoke to an official from the DSW who confirmed the widespread manipulation of the aid processes. The DSW has the mandate to work with local leadership to lead aid processes, but Zanu PF continually uses its influence in government to hijack the processes and use aid as a tool to reward their supporters and punish opposition political party supporters.
As has become an unfortunate formula, the Zimbabwe Republic Police was among the major perpetrators, being found wanting 151 times followed by machete gangs who were responsible for 26 incidents.
Access the full report here (2MB PDF)