Zimbabwe

ZPP Monthly Monitoring Report (December 2019)

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published

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Actions Speak Louder…

Introduction

As the curtain came down on 2019, Zimbabwe continued to experience economic challenges that saw the populace having a rather troubled festive season. Prices of basic commodities remained steeply priced, rendering them unaffordable for the majority of citizens whose monthly income is below ZWD1, 500 per month, against the cost of the food basket for an average family of five that was pegged at ZWD3, 159.522 in October 2019. The continued electricity and water crises further dampened the festive mood as citizens had to grapple with water and electricity shortages. The burden on parents has also been added by the increases in school fees in both government and private learning institutions. These increases are despite the fact that incomes of most citizens have remained generally stagnant.

The drought that the country is experiencing has seen citizens, in rural and urban areas relying on food aid for their survival. The citizenry also started receiving agricultural inputs through the Presidential Input Scheme. It is sad to note that despite the preliminary report issued by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver in which she stated the importance of aid being distributed in a non-discriminatory manner, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) continued recording incidences of politicisation of food and other aid in December 2019. The erratic rainfall received in December did not do much in raising the spirit and hope of Zimbabweans.

The politics of the country continued on a negative trajectory with some divisive utterances being made at the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF)’s 17th Annual National People’s Conference held at Goromonzi High School from 11-16 December 2019. The Deputy Minister of Defence, Victor Matemadanda declared that Zanu PF would not be removed from power, even by elections and that in the event of losing elections, the party would stay in power by any means necessary3 . Such loaded statements insinuate that the party can easily flout the provisions of the constitution and the tenets of democracy that give citizens the right to select a government of their choice [Constitution of Zimbabwe Section 3 {2(a, b, c, d, f)}].

ZPP also recorded cases of violence against members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by Zanu PF supporters. Such brazen targeting does no good to the country particularly in bringing these two critical parties to dialogue on revival of the economy. The targeting is also detrimental to the well -being and image of the country and creates a stumbling block to nation building.

In his New Year’s Eve speech and at an Annual Thanksgiving and Dedication Service in Bulawayo, the President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to work towards increasing productivity, creating decent jobs, empowering citizens and providing safety nets for the vulnerable. The president of the main opposition party, the MDC, Advocate Nelson Chamisa on the other hand promised to roll out action aimed at restoring dignity, promoting development and pushing for change in Zimbabwe. Citizens would rather see more action oriented statements rather than rhetoric which has occupied the political landscape since after November 2017.

Machete wielding artisanal miner gangs continued wreaking havoc with a gang popularly known as ”Team Barca” murdering a police officer in Battlefields. The unrelenting exhibition of lawlessness by these gangs makes it impossible for citizens to enjoy security of person as guaranteed by the constitution. The challenges ushered in by this unfortunate scheme of things demands that the law takes its course and demonstrate that no one is above the law even politicians.

Police brutality and harassment continued unabated especially in Harare where police indiscriminately smashed windows of vehicles in the Central Business District (CBD) as they attempted to disperse vendors from unauthorised vending sites. The police also harassed and apprehended two journalists as they rolled out this operation.

It is regrettable that nine months after Cyclone Idai hit Manicaland and Masvingo provinces, victims are still living in makeshift tents and relying on food aid from the government and well-wishers. Some of the food they get is not fit for human consumption.

State media was once again in its mode of attacking Civic Society Organisations with The Patriot of 20 December 2019 publishing an article titled “Unholy Alliance’’ which directly attacked the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and CSOs who participated and pledged their support and commitment when the National Convergence Platform was launched on 12 December 20195 . The publication accused the church of driving a regime change agenda yet the National Convergence Platform is a platform that seeks to bring together stakeholders such as, churches and civil society organisations to map a way forward for broad-based national dialogue in order to come up with solutions to the socio-economic and political challenges bedevilling the country. The publication published falsehoods denigrating leaders of prominent civil society organisations such as the Zimbabwe Peace Project’s National Director, Jestina Mukoko, SAPES Trust Director, Ibo Mandaza and ZCC Secretary General, Reverend Kenneth Mtata. The Patriot has a history of advancing state propaganda through publishing falsehoods about perceived state critics, particularly CSOs. What is strange is that the publication continues in its age old habit of denying those it criticises a right of reply which is the cornerstone of professional journalism.

ZPP recorded a total of 119 human rights violations in the month of December. This is a sharp decrease from the 209 recorded in November 2019. December has always recorded lower numbers of human rights violations probably because focus will be on the farming season and tending to fields. As has been the trend in the past, intimidation and harassment formed the majority of the violations at 60. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) dominated the list of perpetrators, followed by Zanu PF. The dominance by the police reveals a state where there is use of the security apparatus to stifle dissent. This trend is a shift from the former government of the late Robert Mugabe where Zanu PF almost always dominated the list of perpetrators.
Mashonaland and Harare provinces recorded the highest number of violations with Mashonaland Central recording 22 violations, Harare with 21 violations and Mashonaland East, 19 violations. Matabeleland provinces recorded the lowest violations as usual.