The majority of the incidents reported in January 2015 are related to the distribution of agricultural inputs and food inputs. Issues of this nature are topical during this time of the year because that’s when most farmers will be in need of agricultural inputs and the time also coincides with the hunger/lean season.
ZPP has recorded numerous cases in which the right to food and education is being denied to people on the basis of their political identity. On 23 January 2015 at Dongadilika Bottle Store in Bubi, Ward 7 in Matebeleland North, Stephen Dube, a Zanu PF official registering people as recipients of fertiliser under the Presidential Input Scheme refused to register a well known MDC-T member saying that the fertiliser and seed scheme was for Zanu PF members only. The discrimination of food and agricultural aid was not only targeted at opposition supporters but also at Zanu PF members perceived to belong to the faction allegedly led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru. In one of many cases, on 25 January 2015, in Chikanga Township, in Mutare a Zanu PF activist Edward Gurudza denied another Zanu PF member perceived to belong to the Mujuru faction fertilizer distributed under the Presidential Input Scheme. The discrimination on the basis of political affiliation also extended to other sectors like education. In Bindura South village Head Leonard Madamombe of Nekati village was tasked to list the names of children who were to be assisted through on the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). The village head gave preference to children whose parents were members of Zanu PF and those whose parents were MDC-T supporters were told that they would be contacted later.
Under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) the Zimbabwean government has committed itself to addressing the challenges of food insecurity and undernourishment. One of the plans under the ZimAsset food security cluster includes the provision of food relief to vulnerable social groups from Grain Marketing Board (GMB) stocks. Section 77 of the Zimbabwean Constitution also stipulates that every person has the right to sufficient food. In this regard, there is no way we can talk about all Zimbabweans having sufficient food if sections of the population are denied food on the basis of their political affiliation or orientation. According to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the State has the obligation to refrain from using access to food as a political tool to reward supporters, punish opponents or recruit militias1
Zimbabwe is a state party to the ACHPR and has an obligation to ensure that Zimbabweans access food and agricultural inputs regardless of their political affiliation or persuasion.
Political intolerance has been ingrained in the political fabric of Zimbabwe and this has stifled democratic growth and compromised peace. Political intolerance has moved beyond physical confrontation to include threats and intimidation, sixty nine percent (69%) of the cases reported by ZPP in January involved threats and intimidation. In a typical case of intimidation, on 13 January 2015 two Zanu PF workers based at Marondera Office were harassed and threatened with beating by war veterans Chitekuteku and Simon Dengu as well as seven other Zanu PF youths. The workers were accused of belonging to the faction led by the former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
The factionalism within the ruling Zanu PF has continued to trigger more purges and conflict even at lower levels of the party. The party is currently going through a restructuring exercise at various party levels. This restructuring exercise is suspected to be aimed at cleansing the party of those members perceived to belong to the Mujuru faction. In a case demonstrating the levels of political intolerance, on 14 January 2015 three Zanu PF members perceived to belong to the Mujuru faction were denied access to and participation in a branch party meeting held near Machikichori Beer Hall in Chikanga, in Mutare. As the victims approached the venue of the meeting four party members led by Jethro Pikirayi began shouting at them accusing them of being sell outs and barred them from entering the meeting venue.
Democracy necessitates deep respect for the plurality of views and virtues of dialogue as a means of resolving issues. Unfortunately in some cases violence has been used as a means to deal with differences. In Bindura North on 1 January 2015 a Zanu PF Ward 8 Councillor was grabbed by the collar by Mrs Bvunzawabaya who is the Chairperson for Zanu PF in Bindura North. The victim was accused of being unfaithful to the party because of his allegiance to the local Member of Parliament Kenneth Musanhi who was dismissed from the Central Committee in November 2014 for being aligned to former Vice President Joice Mujuru. Mrs Bvunzawabaya demanded that the victim quit his position from the Bindura North party structures.
People have a right to civil liberties wherein differences in viewpoints are accepted and respected; unfortunately this is not the case in most areas in Zimbabwe. In a typical case, on 3 January 2015 in Binga North constituency Chief Saba summoned his subjects for a meeting at his homestead. At the meeting he declared that all his subjects had to support Zanu PF and buy party cards. In Mashonaland East the village head for Chapendama village, Dhirihori Ward 19 in Marondera East was demoted from his position by former Chief Svosve, Lovemore Zenda and Councillor Norbert Hwenjere for being a suspected MDC-T affiliate. In another case, on 18 January 2015 a Bulawayo Zanu PF activist Velaphi Ndlovu who has influence at Tshabalala police mobilized a group of neighbourhood watch committees to round up ten youth supporters of MDC-T under the guise that he wanted to get rid of thieves in the area. The youth were bundled into Velaphi’s Nissan pickup truck which had no registration plates and were detained without charge at Tshabalala police camp.
It is alleged that the youths were assaulted and had difficulty in walking when they were released without charge three days later.
In the month of January 155 violations were recorded and these emanated from intra and inter party fights and topping the list were harassment and discrimination cases. The relatively lower numbers of violations mask deep seated political tensions which are observed even during the distribution of food and other forms of aid. The main perpetrators of various violations are male; out of 230 recorded perpetrators, 203 are male while 24 are female. Whereas opposition party supporters have borne the brunt of violence and they have been the main victims as reported by ZPP there has been a reversal of this trend. There is a marked increase of Zanu PF party activists who were victims of violations; 51 cases involving Zanu PF victims were recorded in the month of January 2015 compared to 67 cases recorded in December 2014. The perpetrators of violence against the noted Zanu PF activists were also Zanu PF activists. Zanu PF party members still remain the main perpetrators of violence with a record 204 perpetrators compared to 13 from MDC-T party. The number of victims of political violence remain high among males (189) compared to females (72) and this could be attributed to the fact that men constitute the majority of political actors. The majority of the victims (238) have dependents that may have been affected by the violence perpetrated on their parents.