Zimbabwe: Post presidential election - March to May 2002


"No nonsense will be tolerated. If they become lawless we will deal with them firmly. We will make them run. If they haven't run before we will make them run now. We will not pander to them any longer. That's gone. It's finished. We are now entering a new chapter, and there will be firm government, very firm government....."

  • President Robert Mugabe clarifying his policy towards the opposition MDC.
    This report documents that mutilating torture beyond any doubt is practised by government supporters against their political opponents in Zimbabwe in the post election period.

The fact that perpetrators do not care whether they torture people who can identify them, or whether their acts of torture or ill treatment leave marks that can easily be recognised as caused by torture, underlines a clear assumption on their part of impunity. This assumption appears well founded: no prosecutions against perpetrators have been made in any of the cases of torture and ill treatment that we documented, and this points to a deliberate policy by the authorities.

Furthermore, since the previous report published in January this year, we document a new phenomenon - the political manipulation of hunger in some areas to exclude those labelled as "MDC supporters" from all routes of gaining maize, the staple food. In rural areas, access to food is controlled by government mechanisms such as "food for work", and through regulation of all maize sales through the parastatal Grain Marketing Board. Food distributed by international donors is also in some districts proving to be subject to political manipulation by ZANU-PF.

The abuse of power related to food is not limited to war veterans, youth militia and elected councillors, but includes headmasters, businessmen, chiefs and traditional leadership.

Denial of access to food, particularly when children are victimised for the perceived political beliefs of their parents, should be considered a serious violation of human rights. It is apparent that there is the potential to influence government policy on distribution of food, through donor pressure and control at their own feeding points, and thereby restore some human rights in Zimbabwe.