Theme: Zim Operates in State of Disaster
The declaration of State of Disaster on the 2015-2016 agricultural season brings with it some dynamics that if managed well could bring relief to the millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation.
ON 4 February 2016, Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, acting on behalf of President Robert Mugabe, released a statement declaring the 2015-16 agricultural season a State of Disaster. This declaration set in motion a food mobilisation exercise which saw government making an appeal of US$1.5 billion for assistance to enable it to provide for the food needs across the country. If managed well, the resource mobilisation efforts could result in food aid which could ease the plight of millions of Zimbabweans facing hunger induced by the El Nino drought.
As this report and a few others before it have shown, partisan distribution of food aid is resulting in the marginalisation of many vulnerable groups of people. In its special feature on page 26, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) recommends minimum standards which government should consider it its distributions.
Zanu-PF has never been at its most vulnerable as both internal and external threats ravage the revolutionary movement, shaking it from its very core and rendering it a former shadow of its mighty self in the process.
While internal turmoil in its own belly - caused by the tension between the warring factions of Generation 40 (G40) which is believed to be rooting for First Lady Grace Mugabe, and Team Lacoste, whose members are determined to see Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa take over from President Robert Mugabe when the time comes – is making the revolutionary party nauseous; external threat from former Vice President Mujuru’s new political outfit, Zimbabwe People First (commonly referred to only as People First) are enough to make it dizzy.
ZPP Monthly Monitoring Report for January 2016 shows that in addition to factional spasms taking centre stage across the provinces; Zanu-PF is battling to exorcise the ‘ghost’ of ousted Mujuru, who, more than a year since she was kicked to the curb supposedly continues to enjoy support within the rank and file of the ruling party. As if that were not enough, with People First gaining traction on the ground, Zanu-PF is feeling the heat as more and more of its members are reportedly jumping ship to join the new party.
This report shows that witch-hunting in the provinces particularly in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, among a few other areas, has seen political conflict rising where ruling party members suspected of aligning themselves with People First are being flushed out of the party and in some instances finding themselves victims of harassment, intimidation and discrimination. Suspicion is rife among fellow Zanu-PF members as some no longer trust their colleagues whom they accuse of dabbling in People First politics even as they continue to sup with them at ruling party tables. Apparently so threatening to Zanu-PF is the emergence of People First that this month’s report tells of repeated warnings the ruling party is meting out to its membership in meetings against the “folly” of joining People First lest they be left out of distributions for food aid and input assistance.
In more pronounced instances, in Hwedza a group of suspected state agents were deployed to the area in order to monitor People First movements and progress.
ZPP reports also indicate a coming together to collaborate between Progressive Democrats Party (PDP) and People First, with the former joining hands with the latter, something which PDP leader Tendai Biti confirmed to ZPP.
Exorcising Mujuru’s ‘ghost’ is proving to be seizing the ruling party as seen by the report from Manicaland where Mutare City Council management was targeted wholesale allegedly on suspicion that they are ‘gamatox’ remnants. (‘Gamatox’ are those suspected to be sympathetic to Mujuru.)
As Zanu-PF stands itself ready to fend off the People First threat, the ‘traditional enemy, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) is not forgotten as relentless discrimination against its members continues amidst partisan distribution of food aid and input. Against a backdrop of hard hitting El Nino drought which has resulted in three million facing starvation and scores of livestock dying, hunger is wreaking havoc in the country. With millions of people facing starvation there is more need for diligent and equitable distribution of food aid. Sadly this is not so in a number of areas across the country.
In order to ensure that discrimination against members of the opposition is maintained Zanu-PF leadership at local levels in a number of areas have taken to displacing and replacing gatekeepers in distributions of food aid and agricultural inputs. In a number of instances reported for January, opposition councillors as well as village heads who did not comply with partisan distribution of the aid were either pushed out of their positions or relieved of the distribution function of their duties. This was seen in Matabeleland, among a few other areas.
January saw a total of 208 reported politically motivated violations, a majority of which were allegedly perpetrated by Zanu-PF (82.3%).
For its part, the MDC-T was also accused of perpetrating violent acts including a report from Mukarakate Village in Murehwa South, where a member of the democratic movement defected to the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) had his house set on fire.
Violence continues to be traded from all quarters albeit with some parties being more violent than others. On this score, the political landscape remains grim.On a brighter note, however, unlike what is usually documented in reports, action was recorded to have been taken in some instances of violence which were reported to the police in January. While a great many of reported cases do not record decisive and corrective actions being taken in instances of political violence, this month’s report carries two incidences in Mashonaland Central where perpetrators of the violations were punished by the law. In one instance where a victim’s maize crop was slashed on the grounds that he supported the opposition, the perpetrator was charged and fined by the police. In the second incident, a Zanu-PF supporter who had stolen a bag of fertilizer from an MDC-T supporter simply because he was from the opposition and so, according to the perpetrator, should not have received this state assistance, the matter was reported to the police and taken to court and the perpetrator was reportedly sentenced to time in jail.
Though these sparks be bright, they are too few and far between, and so clearly the struggle for peace continues!