Cases of food and other aid violations have been on the increase since September last year. Due to a persistent drought, government availed food aid to vulnerable households. The government has also availed farming inputs for both thePresidential Input Scheme and Command Agriculture programme.
The government has identified over 800 000 households around the country who qualify for food aid and inputs for farming. This has increased cases of food aid violations with the ruling party mostly implicated. Many Zanu PF MPs have been giving away rice at party rallies for example, the latest one being in Highfield by Psychology Maziwisa. There is no clarity whether this rice belongs to the MP or the state. In Masvingo villagers have accused Zanu PF MP Lovemeore Matuke of taking rice to his Sandon Boarding School and hotel at the expense of starving villagers. Many violations were reported against the backdrop of worsening economic conditions. Cash shortages have persisted while diaspora remittances have gone down according to the RBZ. This has increased the vulnerability of many households in the country.
In urban areas the government and local government authorities have been removing vendors from the streets and other areas of informal trading. Governmenthas been encouraging small businesses to register with the revenue authority and introduced various statutory instruments that have affected the small business such as Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which makes it harder for people to import goods for resale.
These economic hardships have affected children the most as some are being turned away from school for non payment of school fees. Some children are being forced to engage in paid work in order to pay their own fees and this deprives them of vital learning time. Section 75(1b) of the constitution states that every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to further education which the state through reasonable legislative and other measures must make progressively available and accessible.
Several cases have been reported where children have failed to proceed with their education because of a failure to access results for non payment of school fees. In Matabeleland North alone 9 cases of students with withheld results were reported to ZPP. Other such cases have been reported in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.On the political front, most political activity has been coming from the factional wars in the ruling party playing themselves out on social media and party structures. Theruling party has been occupied with winning by-elections while opposition parties are more engrossed in coalition talks to form a united front against the ruling Zanu PF party in the 2018 elections.
Various leaders including chiefs, councillors and other community leaders mostly linked to the ruling Zanu PF party were implicated in many of the cases of politicisation of food aid.
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reports for January show a total of 108 violations up from last month’s. The month under focus had 655 victims altogether. Of these victims, those from the Zimbabwe People First (Zim PF) were 20 people 6.4%, and those affiliated to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) stood at 34% which translates to 107 people.
A total of 655 victims and 330 perpetrators were recorded. 67% of the victims were male while 33% were females. 90.3% of the perpetrators were male while 9.7% were female.
Of the victims only 3% were affiliated to Zanu PF while 6% were affiliated to ZimPF. 34% were affiliated to the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai while the remaining 56% were not affiliated to any known political party. The high number of non affiliated victims points to changing political dynamics in which there is increased involvement of citizens who are not aligned to political parties in political activism.
134 perpetrators were affiliated to the ruling Zanu PF party which is 78% of the figure. The MDC-T recorded 9 perpetrators while 5 perpetrators were serving Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and a war veteran.
The month of January recorded many violations which were politically motivated. Most of the reported cases were harassment and intimidation of opposition political activists. Other prominent cases were those of deprivation of state sponsored food aid and inputs for farming.
Victims either had their political meetings disrupted or were harassed or intimidated into joining other political parties. Some victims were deprived of food aid. There was a worrying case where villagers were punished for not observing an African sacred day. This is a long held practice in most rural areas and other urban areas. On this day, villagers must not work in their fields.All citizens have the freedom to assemble and that of association. This means they are entitled to gather in meetings organised by political parties of their choice. Citizens also have a right to freedom of expression which means they may wear political regalia of their choice. However there were cases of harassment and intimidation for exercising these rights. Finally all citizens have the right to security and this includes food security.