ZPP Monthly Monitoring Report: Human Rights Violations (February 2018)


Of Entitlement, ‘Cockpit and chunhu chedu’ (our thing) Politics


A dark cloud engulfed the country in the early evening hours of the ‘day of love’ February 14 as news of the passing on of the champion and icon of democracy Morgan Richard Tsvangirai filtered.
Tsvangirai leaves an indelible footprint in the fight for democracy. In death Tsvangirai who succumbed to colon cancer was saluted even by those who caused him and his supporters untold suffering over the years since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999. Described as an icon and one who transformed the political profile of Zimbabwe since 1999, the demise of this larger than life figure saw Zimbabwe witness words of praise from the most unlikely quarters but what was clear was that Tsvangirai’s passing united Zimbabweans as they mourned him. The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) acknowledges Tsvangirai’s contribution to democracy and also reflects on the multitudes of victims the organisation has had to profile and refer for assistance, their crime being the holding of divergent views.

As the 2018 harmonised elections draw closer, according to a roadmap released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), expected anytime between July 21 and August 22, 2018, what is happening in political parties is disturbing as it does not by any measure foretell free, fair and credible elections. The death of Tsvangirai heightened tensions in the opposition MDC-T as the Vice Presidents jostled for the ultimate position in the ‘cockpit’ which saw his funeral marred by ugly incidents of violence and rowdiness. One of the vice presidents Thokozani Khupe and three other officials Douglas Mwonzora, Lwazi Sibanda and Abednigo Bhebhe had to seek refuge in a hut at the Tsvangirai rural homestead as a group of youths bayed for their blood and threatened to burn down the hut.

While the MDC-T struggled with violence against some of its own, in Zanu PF deepening factions and conflicts reveal that factions and did not disappear with the seismic political shift in November 2017. In some communities while the supposed victors from November 2017, Lacoste faction, seek to consolidate their power and influence and regrettably punishing perceived G40 members, the influence of the ‘icon’ Robert Mugabe seems to be real. There are reports that in some communities in the Mashonaland provinces in particular Mashonaland Central some citizens claim they are not aware that former president Mugabe has been replaced. The G40 sought attention of the regional and continental bodies the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to consider the November shift of power as a coup, a method of power transfer not recognised by both groupings. The catch 22 situation is that both organisations have officially recognised the government in Harare. Even the former president is reported to have broken his silence since November and claimed that his family is being ill-treated by the new administration. The tensions among citizens at the local level are increasing and might to come to a head in the run up to the elections as some citizens report the deployment of the military, a situation similar to that of 2008 when gross acts of violence were perpetrated.