Guns represent war, conflict, destruction and death and in Zimbabwe, the gun had led politics instead of the reverse. This month, we witnessed and report that there has been an upsurge in the political activities and with it there has been an increase in the violation of civil and political rights.
This month, the hand of the ruling Zanu PF in human rights violations became more pronounced. Last month, the party contributed to 22 percent of human rights violations perpetrators, and in May, there has been an increase, with the party contributed to 31.87 percent of human rights violations, closely following behind the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), which contributed to about 38 percent of all violations compared to 50 percent in April.
For example, on 22 May 2021 MDC Alliance officials intending to conduct their clean up exercise in Mutare were confronted by police officers from the Police Internal Security and Investigation ( department who ordered the meeting to end while in Harare, police arrested opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume as he conducted a cleanup exercise in Mbare.
The police’s reluctance to arrest Zanu PF affiliated perpetrators of crime and human rights violations continued with one of the major cases being that of the assault of an MDC Alliance supporter by Zanu PF activists at Jairos Jiri Shopping Centre in Rimuka, Kadoma.
Zanu PF activists assaulted the victim because he had allegedly commented about the country’s economic meltdown. The victim, who suffered a damaged ear drum during the assault, made a report to the police, but no arrests were made.
In addition to using harassment, intimidation and threats, suspected Zanu PF activists have also employed more brute methods and this month, an MDC Alliance Secretary in Mashonaland West, Tawanda Bvuma escaped an abduction attempt after two off-road vehicles blocked his car and he had to flee on foot. The assailants are believed to be state agents working with the ruling Zanu PF to intimidate opposition activists ahead of the 2023 elections. Bvuma is one of the opposition activists from Banket who were abducted in October 2008 and spent weeks incommunicado detention before being handed to the police in December 2008.
In essence, two years before the election, the human rights violations are already escalating and this only proves that once again, the gun is in charge. This month, we also focus on the social inequalities in the education sector and the general social gaps that have resulted in young people engaging in crime and drugs. These inequalities and the resultant crime, drug abuse and problems in the education sector are on their own a human rights issue as they are a direct product of the government’s inability to honour its socio economic obligations.
Our key findings show that the standards of education especially in the rural communities have gone down and in some schools, a single class can have over 60 children and this not only affects the quality of education, but also exposes the children to COVID-19.
In addition, with government not honouring its side of the obligations by providing the necessary support in the form of infrastructure and tuition material, schools are having to rely on parents, who are also overburdened due to the economic challenges. In other words, government has completely left the education sector on its own and the only contribution that government is making is paying the teachers. However, teachers are also crying foul over the meagre salaries they are getting resulting in the learners suffering the consequences. Most teachers are reported to ne supplementing their salaries by offering extra lessons a situation that separates children coming from families that have and those coming from families that do not have as the lessons are charged in United States dollars. In light of all this, the month of May, according to ZPP’s monitoring of the human rights situation, is a month of guns & roses.