This June, Zanu PF continued to shut down the space for the opposition in Mashonaland West, East, Central and Masvingo provinces and perhaps the most prominent case is when suspected Zanu PF youths allegedly backed by Energy minister and Muzarabani North legislator, Soda Zhemu, and Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe attacked Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Vice President Tendai Biti as he was travelling from Muzarabani.
According to information ZPP gathered, the Zanu PF district chairperson Emmerson Raradza, Muzarabani South Legislator Tapera Saizi and Zhemu, with the assistance of Kazembe organized a group of party youths and mobilized resources to converge and attack Biti, who is also Harare East legislator.
It is alleged that Kazembe got information of Biti’s visit to Muzarabani through the police channels which he superintends.
Kazembe allegedly went on to pass Biti’s travel details to Saizi and Zhemu, who organised the attack.
With the plan finalised, it was shared with Rararadza and Central Intelligence Office operative identified as Hamunyari Kasengezi, who then allegedly organised vehicles to ferry party youths from Muzarabani North’s Wards 7, 8 and 9.
The youths were allegedly given beer and food to carry out the attack.
The youths allegedly mounted a roadblock and when Biti’s vehicle convoy arrived the youths sang and chanted Zanu PF songs and slogans as they stoned the motorcade, forcing Biti to make a u-turn back to Harare.
This is just one of the prominent cases where the operating space for the opposition is being constricted ahead of the 2023 elections and in the past three months, ZPP has recorded over 20 incidents where Zanu PF local leaders or traditional leaders have deliberately taken action meant to intimidate opposition supporters.
For example, in June, Zanu PF youths forced CCC supporters to abort a soccer tournament organised by the opposition. Zanu PF youths alleged that they had not been informed of the tournament and it could, therefore, not go ahead.
Even President Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to be part of the whole grand scheme to alienate the opposition because when he visited Murehwa in June in his capacity as the Head of State, to commission a Civil Registry office, he allegedly summoned traditional leaders and while addressing them, he said they were supposed to be seen to be actively leading the Zanu PF party local structures called cells.
According to the Constitution, traditional leaders are not supposed to support any political party and by addressing the traditional leaders in his Head of State capacity and ‘urging them to support and lead Zanu PF structures,’ President Mnangagwa not only abused his authority, but also acted in contravention Section 281 of the Constitution, which clearly states that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics and must not act in a partisan manner or further the interests of any political party or cause.
President Mnangagwa is not alone in this, because his deputy, Vice President Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga, in May, while addressing an Africa Day eve meeting, told traditional leaders in Gwanda to mobilize for Zanu PF ahead for the 2023 general elections. In the same month, Zanu PF Vice-President Kembo Mohadi also summoned Bulilima West traditional leaders to a meeting at Plumtree town offices, where he told them to mobilize and campaign for Zanu PF. Mohadi also held another meeting at Esikhoveni Institute where he said the same thing to traditional leaders.
The attempts to shut down space cascade down to the lower levels of Zanu PF leadership and in Mudzi and Murehwa North, Zanu PF councillors and legislators continued to force villagers to attend Zanu PF meetings.
A CCC supporter in Mudzi North received death threats after questioning a Zanu PF Ward Chairperson why he was forcing villagers to chant ruling party slogans. The ward chairperson is reported to have threatened villagers at a Ward Development Committee meeting, which is supposed to be apolitical and open to all villagers.
The cases are all over the country and in Nyanga North’s Ward 2, while addressing a meeting at Avila Shopping Centre on 11 June 2022, the Zanu PF ward chairperson Paul Teta said the party was due to resume night vigils and establish camps where opposition supporters would be assaulted and tortured the same way the party did in 2008 when it launched an orgy of violence against opposition supporters following the then President Robert Mugabe’s loss to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Based on this and more human rights violations recorded in June 2022, Zanu PF once again was ahead of the pack, contributing to over 43 percent of all violations while the Zimbabwe Republic Police followed behind at 24.4 percent.
The main opposition, CCC, was implicated in nearly four percent of all violations and this stems mostly from the party youths’ retaliation against attacks on its supporters by Zanu PF youths in Nyatsime.
In Nyatsime, CCC activist Moreblessing Ali was abducted then murdered and her body cut into pieces in one of the worst forms of suspected political brutality. After the discovery of Ali’s mutilated body in a disused well Zanu PF went on to claim that Ali was thgeir member although when she went missing not once did the local leadership of the party raise concern about her disappearance.
Her murder sparked intense political violence in the area (see next section)
In all the human rights violations, about 91 percent of victims are ordinary citizens while about seven percent are CCC supporters and 0.5 percent are Zanu PF supporters. There is a possibility that some citizens deliberately hide their political affiliation for fear of reprisals that come with being associated.