THE political landscape of Zimbabwe continues to be awash with intolerance and bias. While members of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) are seen on the offensive in a few of the recorded instances, in the majority of reported incidences in August the ruling Zanu PF is the dominant perpetrator, a situation that continues to repeat itself.
Farm invasions reared their ugly head in areas across the country in incidences that displayed the impunity with which some members of the ruling party, including chiefs, who are supposed to be custodians of law and order in villages, take liberties with no apparent repercussions. Illegal parcelling out of land continues to be a thorn in the side of local authorities who appear helpless in the face of Zanu PF ‘political privilege’ in claiming land to do as they please regardless of governing by-laws. In an incident in Nyatsime, a council surveyor going about his work looking for pegs which demarcate land, was hounded out of the space he was working by a group of Zanu PF members who obviously acted as if they are above the law and that land is a private preserve of theirs to do with as they wish.
Both the farm invasions in areas such as Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West, among a few other areas; and the biased allocation of parcelled out pieces of land as residential stands to members of Zanu PF ahead of those from other parties reek of a misplaced perception of ‘political privilege’.
Invaded farms were taken over by members or cronies of members of the ruling party. By the same token, the illegal parcelling out of land going on through cooperatives and other unions, outside of councils’ provisions and sanction, in Mufakose and Kuwadzana, among other areas, also portrays how members of the ruling Zanu PF feel they have the ‘privilege’ to access land ahead of, and at the exclusion of, others who are at their mercy in efforts to secure land for themselves.
Some residents of Hatcliffe, Budiriro, among other areas, had their homes demolished, leaving them homeless. The repeated demolitions of homes, which is leaving hundreds of individuals stranded, continues to be a major concern in the country. It robs affected families of their socio-economic rights.
A significant number of incidences documented for August show the right most denied to citizens as the one to personal integrity and human dignity. This was expressed through various forms of intimidation and harassment including verbal abuse, physical violence or the destruction of one’s possessions. In one instance of intra-party violence a woman who was seen wearing a wrap cloth with the face of former vice president, Joice Mujuru, was slapped in the face and had her wrap cloth torn up by a fellow Zanu PF member who took offence at the woman’s perceived loyalty to the vice president who has since fallen out of favour within the rank and file of the revolutionary party. In yet another incident in Viko Village in Nyanga North, a perceived MDC-T supporter was cut on the lip with a knife by a member of Zanu PF who was irked by the victim’s comment that he was a member of the party, which had “destroyed the country”. The accused was identified as Tatenda Mapani.
In an incident in Muzarabani, a Zanu PF supporter Kudakwashe Chifamba acting in apparent cahoots with his father, one Norman Chifamba, allegedly uprooted a fellow villager’s vegetables from his garden on the accusation that the villager did not attend ruling party meetings.
Not only does violence get pride of place on the political landscape, but it also gets rewarded. This report gives an account of an instance in Glen View South, where constituency legislator, Hon. Pius Madzinga, allegedly rewarded acts of violence during recent by-elections. Madzinga is said to have and sidelined those youths who had supposedly not campaigned for him. Such acts grant and perpetuate the same misguided sense of ‘political privilege’ to land which is denied others.
Yet another disturbing incident in August was the intimidation of and threats against community members in Marondera in order to coerce them into voting for the Zanu PF candidate for the byelection scheduled for September, Lawrence Katsiru. Katsiru allegedly sent youths and other party members to check on numbers of who had registered to vote. Katsiru vowed to ‘deal’ with those who would not support his bid for office.
A high number of incidences in August centred around Heroes’ Day celebrations where considerable conflict came about in the collections of co-erced cash contributions towards the festivities. Over the years, some members of the opposition parties have become reluctant to partake in the celebrations of Heroes’ Day and other related holidays on the grounds that the ruling party has taken “ownership” of the days making them partisan instead of national for all. Against that background, the forced contributions and the harassment and bias that comes with the exercise against perceived “enemies of the state” creates bad blood and altercations amongst parties. In a couple of reported instances some people who had contributed in cash, were forced out of the celebrations on political grounds and when they claimed their monies back, they were threatened with unspecified action.
By and large, Zanu PF acts of harassment, discrimination and other types of violations continue to be perpetrated at three distinct “enemies”. These are the white farmers, MDC-T, MDC-N and since last year those perceived to be ‘gamatox’1. Incidences throughout the month confirmed hostile sentiments towards the groups of enemies.
Of particular interest in the wave of intra-party violence is the targeting of former Zanu PF political godfather for the Manicaland province, Didymus Mutasa, who having been a perpetrator in several instances of violence against political opponents during his heyday before being expelled from the ruling party, has of late been finding himself on the receiving end of intolerance. This report documents an incident where a school under his wing was usurped from him. Efforts are underway to dispossess him of a house he has owned for years. Several others, who had been identified as sympathetic to him, have also suffered alongside him.
This report also carries an incident in Mpopoma and Pelandaba, where residents accused the MDC-T councillors of corruptly allocating residential stands, and petitioned party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to look into the matter. Tsvangirai tasked the party legislator for the area, Eddie Cross to look into the matter. This investigation is underway.