This report covers recorded incidents of civil and political rights violations from the ten provinces of Zimbabwe for the month of June 2015.The month of June 2015 was filled with a number of enthralling political developments most of which have an impact on the attainment of sustainable peace.
The 10 June by-elections were held across 16 constituencies and all the seats were won by Zanu PF.
In the period leading up to the elections, the Zimbabwe Peace Project monitored and reported numerous cases physical violence, threats and intimidation of voters, abuse of traditional leaders and widespread vote buying using food and other forms of aid. The by-elections resulted in the consolidation of the majority of Zanu PF in parliament (now at 76% of the National Assembly seats) and the diminishing legislative presence of the opposition (only left with 21% of the seats). The weakening of the opposition is unfortunate since a stable and strong opposition is a key prerequisite for horizontal accountability through legislative checks and balances on executive power.
In a move that has the potential to trigger pandemonium in urban areas, on the 2nd of June 2015 Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Commander of the Presidential Guard BrigadierGeneral Anselem Sanyatwe ordered vendors operating at undesignated sites in all urban areas to vacate in a week or face unspecified action. On the same day the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) vowed to defy the ultimatum arguing that they will not move until local authorities offer them alternative vending sites. NAVUZ argued that Zimbabwe is not in a state of emergency and inviting the army and the police to fight vendors was as good as declaring war on livelihoods. The vendors in Harare resisted the initial attempts to move them to newly designated sites on the outskirts of the Central Business District arguing that the location was not ideal for their business.
The vendors also argued that vending was their only source of livelihood due to the harsh economic environment and they were going to resist movement unless properly located sites have been identified and allocated to them. The situation remains tense and can degenerate into violence and this report highlights the situation across various municipalities.
The purges in Zanu PF continued unabated as the party took stern measures to punish those accused of working and/or supporting former Vice President Joice Mujuru. On 11 June 2015 Parliament suspended three Zanu PF legislators from the House of Assembly after their party notified the Speaker that the law makers had been recalled. The three were Ray Kaukonde (Marondera Central),
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Mwenezi East) and David Butau (Mbire).On the same day, former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Olivia Muchena were booted out of the Senate. The five were part of the Zanu PF leaders expelled from the party on allegations of being part of a “cabal” that was plotting to topple President Mugabe in order to replace him with his former deputy Mujuru. Bhasikiti took an unprecedented step and approached the High Court challenging his expulsion from Zanu PF arguing that the Politburo did not have the power to expel him and had also not accorded him his right to defence. On the 25th of June he successfully applied for the Constitutional Court to bar President Robert Mugabe from declaring Mwenezi East constituency vacant pending the finalization of his High Court case. Information and Media Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo was on the 23rd of June 2015 axed from his position as cabinet minister. There was speculation on the reasons behind this ouster with some analysts arguing that this was a technicality arising from his assumption of a legislative role while other schools of thought argued that this was part of the factional fights within Zanu PF. In a tragic turn of events in the Zanu PF factional purges, on 9 June 2015 the former Zanu PF Harare Provincial Chairperson Ambassador Amos Midzi is alleged to have committed suicide. Midzi was a strong ally of the ousted Vice President Mujuru and a week before his death he had been suspended from Zanu PF for five years on allegations of fanning factionalism in the capital. The purges in Zanu PF heighten political tensions and have the effect of fanning violence across the party structures as indicated in numerous cases in this report.
The Zimbabwean opposition movement has been disintegrating as power struggles and factionalism intensified. On 3 June 2015, Elton Mangoma one of the key architects of the breakaway Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Renewal party formed yet another opposition outfit named the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe. The Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe was formed by activists who were disgruntled with what was termed institutional stagnation within the MDC Renewal party.
The disintegration of the opposition is largely not driven by ideology but by political careerism and petty personality squabbles. The splits in the opposition weaken the parties and erode the confidence of the electorate in them since the splinter parties are not widely accepted or taken seriously. The fragmentation also dilutes the opposition’s ability to voice demands on national issues. Violence has been pervasive in the factional fight, the number of perpetrators from the MDCT more than doubled from 15 in May 2015 to 39 in June 2015.
In June the Auditor General Mildred Chari presented a report in parliament which highlighted gross mismanagement and incompetence across various government departments which led to the loss of over US 180 million in public funds. The audit revealed among other issues that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was failing to ensure food security. GMB has been failing to maintain a strategic grain reserve at the stipulated minimum of 500 000 metric tonnes. The Auditor General also observed the poor management of the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). BEAM has been delaying paying school fees for vulnerable children and inadequate monitoring has resulted in undeserving children accessing the funds. ZPP has previously reported on discrimination in the distribution of both food aid and BEAM support and it is anticipated that the findings of the Auditor General will be considered in making policy changes.
On 19 June 2015 the Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana was reported to have made shocking remarks which most saw as effectively endorsing child marriages and child consent to sexual relations. Although PG Tomana later reported he had been misquoted the report which put the age of consent for sex at 12 years surprised many activists fighting child marriages as well child sexual abuse. Coming just three days after the Day of the African Child, Tomana’s remarks were received with shock across the country. Women from all walks of life took to the streets to demonstrate their displeasure.
The fate of Itai Dzamara the human rigights activist and journalist who was abducted on 99 March 2015 remains unknown. A national prayer mmeeting for Dzamara that was scheduled for thee 14th of June 2015 was postponed after alleged intteerference by the police. Amnesty International cocorrrectly notes that enforced disappearances are freqquently used as a strategy to spread terror withinin so society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generatates is not limited to the close relatives of the disa isapppeared, but also affects communities and society aas s a whole.
On 15 March 2015 Zimbabwe receiv veed 5,400 metric tonnes of rice worth 8 mil USUSD from the government of China to help alleviate food shortages. According to the Minister of Puublic Service, Labour and Social Welfare Prisca Muppfufumira the rice was to be distributed to accreditedd institutions accommodating vulnerable childrenn, old people, the disabled, prisoners and p pooor families throughout the country. There have bbeen allegations that this rice has been diverted ttoo other uses and is commonly distributed at Zanu PPF functions and during campaigns. This report w wilill highlight a number of cases across the country wwhhich involves discrimination in the distribution of rice.
A total of 215 cases were recorded inin June 2015, as the graph below will show, this hhas as been the average number of violations since t the beginning of the year. The seemingly low numbers of violations mask deep and growing tensions centred around intra party conflicts which araree protracted within both the ruling Zanu PF party anand the opposition MDC-T. Since the beginning of the year ZPP has been noting how the divisions w Zanu PF have resulted in threats, intimidation, assaults and discrimination against members perceceiived to belong to the gamatox faction. Factional ppoolitics within the MDC-T is increasingly turning violent and the opposition movement seems like elyly to further disintegrate. The country has been in election mode since January 2015 due to by-elections and campaigns around these elections haav ve in some cases turned violent with increasing threats and intimidation.