ZPP Monthly Monitor (August 2013)
The month of August was packed with activities following the holding of the harmonised elections on July 31, 2013. During the month under review the country witnessed the announcement of the winners of the elections, the Heroes’ Day celebrations, the winning Zanu PF celebrations, the inauguration of President Robert Mugabe and the election court challenges from the MDC-T. Further, the country co-hosted the UNTWO with Zambia.
The July 31 harmonised elections were declared as free and peaceful and that they were a reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe in preliminary reports by several observer missions including SADC, AU, and the Chinese. To some, the elections proved that Africa (Zimbabwe in particular) has out lived the ghosts of election violence, human rights abuse and that the July 31 elections can be the template for other countries in the region on how to conduct elections.
The trend observed over the year has been that human rights violations usually rise two months before the election, decrease during the election month and only to escalate soon after the election. The post-election retribution thus is directly felt a month or the period directly after the elections. This trend continued to play out and violations did not rise that much across the country in August when compared to July. With a total of 525 incidents having been recorded compared to 496 witnessed in July 2013. Manicaland recorded the highest number of violations, 120, followed by Mashonaland Central with 87, Midlands with 82. Matabeleland South and Bulawayo had the least violations recording 5 and 7 cases respectively.
An interesting but nagging issue that came after the election that may have far reaching consequences for citizens is the conduct through some pronouncements made by Zanu PF winning candidates and some traditional leaders. President Mugabe led the discord when in one of his graveside speeches (Mike Karakadzai’s burial) he disowned Harare and Bulawayo for not voting for him during the elections.
However, the President was not alone as other winning candidates from his party such as Joseph Chinotimba, MP for Buhera South threatened MDC-T members with severe suffering since he is now “panyanga” -in control- in a speech on heroes day at Murove village. Chinotimba is alleged to have said that he will never work or assist any MDC-T member and that Zanu PF was “chiranga mapenzi” (disciplinarian of villains). The period under review witnessed a rise in the number of post-election violence. A large number of people were displaced and others were threatened with evictions for allegedly voting wrongly. Sadly, one person died in Mashonaland East under yet unclear circumstances. An MDC-T activist was found dead on the 9th August 2013 near Two Boys Shopping Centre in a suspected case of political violence. The incident happened in Marondera East Constituency, Masemela village, ward 20. Before his death, just a week before harmonized elections, the deceased had reportedly told his parents that his life was in danger after being threatened by a named Zanu PF activist with death if Zanu PF won the elections since no one will be arrested for the act as he will enjoy protection and impunity.
All the Mashonaland Provinces, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands witnessed cases of displacements targeting MDC-T candidates and their election agents. Harare, being the most affected with thirty five incidents, followed by Mashonaland Central with eighteen cases. Cases of malicious damage to property also rose as a number of houses belonging to MDC-T members were set on fire or destroyed by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
From Harare and in Mbare’s Matererina, Nenyere, Magaba, Manyame and Tagarika flats more than nine families were evicted from the houses and others were threatened with eviction for supporting MDC-T by Zanu PF supporters. In Headlands, Manicaland, four families were displaced on the 13th of August after a group of Zanu PF activists on their way from attending Didymus Mutasa’s birthday bash visited their homes in ward 8- Inyati demanding that they leave the area. In Rushinga and Mt Darwin (Mash Central) 18 families found themselves displaced accused of being either MDC-T election agents or supporters.
Traditional leaders remained in the fore front of acting partisan and violating their constitutional mandate of being neutral and non partisan in their work. Reports show that during the period under review, traditional leaders such as Chief Mahenye from Chipinge South for example summarily dethroned 22 village heads whom he accused of allowing their subjects to vote for MDC-T during elections which caused Zanu PF to lose the ward. In Gutu North, at Makumbe village ward 12 on 28 August the village head chased away an MDC-T member from a GMB food distribution scheme saying he should go and get food from the MDC T. The village head categorically told him that he and other MDC- T activists will never get food as long as Zanu PF is in power. In Insiza South (Mat South) on the 19th of August all kraal heads for ward 4 were called by Headman Maputo to be told how they would operate with the winning Zanu PF councillor Lawrence Maphosa whose home stead is situated in Insiza North ward 15.
With the dire food situation, in some areas however, very few cases of partisan distribution and access to food were reported mainly due to the fact that food relief activities had been suspended in the period leading up to the elections. However, the country faces serious food shortages.