The year 2020 was, by all accounts, a very difficult year for Zimbabwe. The global COVID-19 pandemic went beyond being just a health issue and the Zimbabwean government conveniently used the outbreak as an excuse to clamp down on human rights in Zimbabwe.
For most of the year, state security agents were the major perpetrators of human rights violations and this was largely under the guise of the enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
As the year 2020 ground to its end in December, the trend continued, with little prospects of a better situation in 2021.
In December, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), recorded 181 cases of human rights violations and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), contributed to 27.57 percent of the perpetrators of these. The ruling Zanu PF party contributed 22.61 percent while the municipal police were at 16.54 percent and the Zimbabwe National Army, 7.9 percent.
Machete gangs, who operate mostly in mining areas, contributed 2.39 percent of the violations.
The affiliation of 15.26 percent of perpetrators was unknown.
In December, ZPP recorded 91 cases of harassment and intimidation, and 31 cases of discrimination during aid distribution, 21 cases of assault, two killings and two cases of torture.
Harare topped the list with 44 incidents of human rights violations, followed by Manicaland at 28,
Mashonaland Central at 26 and Mashonaland East, 25.
During the month, ZPP recorded five cases of political intra-party violence within Zanu PF and three cases within the MDC-T and one case within the MDC Alliance.
For the MDC-T and Zanu PF parties, this was mainly due to the internal electoral processes within the two political outfits.
In light of this, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe, in 2020 degenerated into worsened autocracy, characterized by covert and overt attacks on the people’s civic and political rights.
As 2021 takes shape, the human rights situation in Zimbabwe remains dire and the start of the year provides a chance for renewed advocacy for the return to constitutionalism and democracy so that the citizens who have been silenced find their voice again.