ZPP Monthly Monitoring Report: Human Rights Violations (November 2016)


Executive Summary

Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reported a surge in politically motivated violations during November largely due to the by-election that was held in Chimanimani West and two protests held in Harare. The Chimanimani West by-election that was held on 26 November was marred by vote buying, village heads intimidating voters, assisted voting and heavy police presence. Protests held on 18 and 30 November were against the introduction of bond notes. Bond notes are a surrogate currency introduced by the government to ease cash shortages. The protests, although peaceful, led to unlawful detention, harassment of protesters by police and malicious damage to property. State security agents took measures before the protests to stifle dissent through abducting and torturing two activists, assaulting residents in Kuwadzana East and maintaining a heavy presence. In Marondera Boni Tagwirei the MDC-T councillor for ward 3 together with two other party members were arrested and unlawfully detained by the police after they had gone to Marondera Police Station to give notice of a planned anti bond notes demonstration.

Apart from the above-mentioned irregular events, most violations are recorded in cases of food and agricultural input distribution. The El Nino induced drought has meant that many people, in both rural and urban areas, depend on food aid to avert starvation and malnutrition. The beginning of the delayed rainy season has found most people without adequate farming inputs thus the Food and Agriculture Organisation and government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development as well as the Targeted Command Agriculture scheme have been implemented.

During distributions of aid, claims are made that aid coming from government schemes is provided for Zanu PF supporters only. For instance, this report states how some opposition activists were blacklisted from receiving aid in Muzarabani North. In a sign of desperation some opposition supporters in Bubi crossed the floor to join Zanu PF to ensure that they get aid. With the impending Zanu PF conference people have also been coerced into contributing varying amounts of money towards transport fares for Zanu PF members to attend the party conference slated for Masvingo in December. As a result food and other aid violations record the highest statistics.

In November food violations totalled 38 cases, while September had 44 cases and October had the highest with 52. There has been a dip in the number of violations of the right to food supposedly because concern was raised by ZPP, other civic organisations and recorded in a report by Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to the extent of catching the attention of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

On the contrary, in November there was an increase in violations by type to 208 from 186 in October. Fourty-four cases of violence were recorded in Harare with Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Mashonaland East recording 28, 26, 26 and 20 respectively. In November there were 116 cases of intimidation as compared to 88 in October. Discrimination, which can be accounted for largely due to food and agricultural input partisan distribution, was recorded 40 times in November and 51 times the previous month. Another alarming statistic is that of assaults from 15 in October to 25 in November.

Increase in the number of cases of intimidation, discrimination and assault is worrisome especially considering that Zimbabwe is approaching harmonised elections in 2018 and history has it that violations increase during the pre-election period. In November cases of intimidation are high most likely because traditional leaders and state security agents are gearing up for the 2018 election and already employing different intimidation tactics to ensure that most people will vote for Zanu PF. There is a distinct convolution between the party and state as Zanu PF and the police maintain a lead as perpetrators of violence. According to reports received by ZPP, in November Zanu PF was responsible for 51.1% of human rights violations, a reduction of 10.4% from October. As the state continues to deploy police officers in constituencies holding by-elections and as police officers attack peaceful protesters the police are responsible for 32.3% of human rights violations from a low 6.1% the previous month. ZPP is also aware that there are violence perpetrators of no known affiliation. The number of these perpetrators also continues to grow to alarming numbers of 12.1% in August and 16.6% in October. The levels of unknown affiliation of perpetrators were low in July at 0.4% and the record is at 0.9% in November. Perpetrators increased by 106 from 330 in October, however in September they reached an alarming level of 967.

There is a disturbing trend of continuing farm invasions and pegging of stands in undesignated areas. For instance in Gutu West it is alleged that Chief Serima and Colonel Muchechetere approached Erasmus, a white farmer, and told him to evacuate his farm in Chatsworth, Gutu West. In Goromonzi it is alleged that some youths who included MDC-T youths were pegging stands at Mara farm in ward 23.

The rights commonly breached in November are freedom of association, freedom of expression, right to personal security, political rights, freedom to demonstrate and petition, freedom of assembly, right to human dignity and rights of accused persons,. Rights that rarely feature but featured during November are the freedom of profession, trade and occupation and right to life.