A FRESH report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has unearthed cases of brutal political violence perpetrated by Zanu PF on opposition supporters in rural areas as the country counts down to the 23 August elections.
In its fortnightly report released this week, ZPP said in broader terms, the political playing field is not even ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The organisation, which is led by firebrand human rights defender Jestina Mukoko, revealed that Zanu PF supporters have been implicated in several cases of violence perpetrated against CCC activists in many parts of the country where electoral campaigns are taking place.
The ZPP recorded a case of assault during a Zanu PF-organised football tournament at Mtangemchena Primary School ground in Gwanda’s Tshithaudze constituency ward 5.
“It is reported that 6 ruling party activists assaulted Patrick Mlaudzi. It is alleged that Mlaudzi was targeted after the assailants discovered that he is an opposition party supporter who had gate-crashed the event. The level of intolerance continues to be toxic,” reads the report.
In a similar incident, the ZPP said while conducting a door-to-door campaign, Citizens’ Coalition for Change activist Shadrack Msipha was assaulted by Zanu PF youths opposite Mutapa Police Station in Gweru.
The people accompanying Msipha were also targeted as they had mobilised a lot of opposition supporters ahead of a scheduled CCC rally at Mkoba Stadium.
In Goromozi South, ZPP in its report says there were skirmishes in which CCC supporters were pelted with stones by Zanu PF youths during a community campaign.
The Zanu PF youths were caught on camera throwing missiles at CCC-branded campaign vehicles while hurling insults and calling them sellouts.
In Chitungwiza, the report revealed that there were running battles between Zanu PF youths and police officers on 12 July.
“Police officers were seen retreating for safety, with Zanu PF party youths advancing towards them throwing missiles. ZPP condemns the incidences of violence recorded in Goromonzi and Chitungwiza and other parts of the country.
“ZPP urges political parties to reign in their supporters to promote peace before, during and after elections.
“The growing number of incidents of political violence ahead of the crunch elections ahead diminishes the prospect of free, fair and credible elections. ZPP recorded cases of intimidation and harassment of citizens and opposition members by Zanu PF supporters,” reads the report.
The NewsHawks also gathered that on 3 July, Zanu PF members besieged the shop of CCC Gutu Central ward 38 aspiring councillor Anderson Sigende.
Sources said about 60 Zanu PF members were captured on video singing and chanting revolutionary songs denouncing CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, CCC aspiring councillor Singende, and the opposition party.
In Zengeza East, Chitungwiza, the ZPP recorded that CCC activists James Nkonde, Calvin Mutizira and Albert Masamba were assaulted by Zanu PF youths during a door-to-door voter mobilisation campaign.
“The victims were ambushed by the youths who assaulted them with chains, clenched fists and booted feet. Nkonde sustained an eye injury, Mutizira sustained injuries to the mouth while Masamba had his phone confiscated by the perpetrators,” reads the report.
On 5 July, human rights lawyers Obey Shava and Chamunorwa Chingwe were brutally assaulted by at least four men driving a green Mercedes Benz sedan and a Toyota GD6 in Harare.
The incident took place outside Selborne Routledge Primary School in Belvedere. Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was briefed on the attack, narrated that Shava received a phone call from a man who claimed to have an urgent legal matter and asked to meet him in the Belvedere area.
Shava agreed to meet the individual as he intended to drop off a lawyer colleague in the same area. The assailants attacked Shava and Chingwe as soon as they came out of the car and confiscated Shava’s phone. Amid the brutal assaults, Chingwe was able to break away from the assailants and sought assistance.
This is when Shava was found fighting for his life with broken legs and the assailants had already left. Zanu PF supporters have been implicated in several cases of violence perpetrated against CCC activists in many parts of the country where electoral campaigns are taking place.
In Bikita South, former deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi allegedly fired a gun at Citizens’ Coalition for Change supporters who were waiting for Nelson Chamisa’s speech at a rally at Baradzanwa township.
It is reported that Mutodi came to the venue in the company of his supporters in two trucks. They allegedly started throwing missiles at CCC members. Mutodi then drew a pistol and fired two shots targeting the CCC members. He was said to be in the company of a member of Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) identified as Kumbirai Ziki.
It is believed he wanted to intimidate and disperse the CCC supporters ahead of the rally John Mupanduki of the CCC filed a police case against Mutodi, the Zanu PF Bikita South candidate.
The case, RRB 5583028, was reported on 9 July at Bikita Police Station. Constable Chiweshe is handling the matter.
On the same day, the ZPP recorded that Zanu PF forcemarched informal traders in Harae’s Mbare suburb to attend a campaign rally that was addressed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
“Reports indicate that several vendors and small business owners were forced to close stalls to attend the rally which was held at Mbare Stoddart Netball complex. Chief Nhema of Zaka reportedly abused his power, forcing citizens to support the ruling party.
“This is against the Traditional Leadership Act where custodians of traditional authority are prohibited to participate in partisan politics,” reads the ZPP report.
In ward 1 of Masvingo province, the ZPP reported that Faz members led by Valencia Shunje were intimidating citizens, threatening to beat up and kill anyone seen participating in any opposition politics.
Faz has over the months been identified as a major perpetrator of harassment and intimidation among the rural electorate in support of the ruling party. They have disrupted civic engagement and electoral processes countrywide.
In Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park constituency where Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is representing Zanu PF, the ZPP reports that suspected Zanu PF youths disrupted a CCC meeting, resulting in those in attendance, including their leaders, fleeing. They allegedly stormed the residence of the victim where the CCC members had gathered with other party members.
“ZPP notes with grave concern the proliferation of hate language directed at opposition parties, Western countries and anyone known for having dissenting views.
“Since the beginning of the month, media has been awash with public statements from politicians attacking their opponents with hateful and inflammatory language.
“Some of these attacks have video evidence with ruling party supporters celebrating incidents of violence and in some instances the denigration of women in the opposition CCC.
“Hate language fuels violence. ZPP condemns the use of hate language by the political leadership ahead of the harmonised elections. Political leaders who will access many platforms as they campaign are urged to promote peace and to take steps to sanction their supporters who perpetrate violence,” reads the ZPP report.
In Bikita West, a Zanu PF ward 23 chairperson only identified as Mai Chamisa intimidated citizens against voting for the opposition in the August elections. She also allegedly denounced the opposition candidates, calling them sellouts and dogs.
“The language that was used by Mai Chamisa violates the Electoral Act which condemns use of hate speech by political activists aspiring to hold office. Some leaders like Chief Mathema are applauded for adopting language that fosters peace.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was flagged by the ZPP for saying in ChiShona “musoro wambuya vako” (your grandmother’s head) at Western countries who have accussed his Zanu PF government of shrinking the democratic space and violating human rights.
He was speaking at the mining convention hosted by the Miners for Economic Development at the Zanu PF Winery Convention Centre in Gweru on 28 June, where he was the guest of honour.
In a strange statement while addressing Zanu PF supporters, President Mnangagwa prayed that those who had said they would vote for the opposition should be struck by illness.
The ZPP also condemned the unfair situation in which the ruling Zanu PF conducted their campaign activities unmolested yet opposition parties continue to be denied the freedom to hold campaign rallies by the police.
The opposition CCC had six of its scheduled campaign rallies blocked by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to date, while Zanu PF was given the greenlight to hold campaign rallies in Mbare, Chitungwiza, Gokwe, Masvingo, Harare South, Makoni West, Chinhoyi and Magunje.
CCC rallies scheduled for Masvingo (Chivi, Chiredzi and Chikombedzi), Mashonaland Central (Mazowe Central and Bindura) and the Midlands (Gokwe) were blocked in unclear circumstances by the police.
In Mashonaland Central province, the officer commanding police Mazowe district, Chief Superintendent Enock Masimba prohibited the CCC Mazowe Central rally, claiming that the venue had already been booked by another political party.
In Masvingo West, the officer commanding police, Chief Superintendent D. Maringire barred the CCC Chivi rally, claiming that Zanu PF had booked the venue first.
In Midlands province, the officer commanding Gokwe district, Chief Superintendent Augustine Zimbili, highlighted that there were many political activities by other parties which would strain their human resources.
In Masvingo Chiredzi South, the officercommanding police, Chief Superintendent Robert Chihwereva barred two CCC rallies in Chikombedzi and Chiredzi Central at Tshovani Stadium, saying there were official openings of two clinics (Gwasera Clinic and Rusununguko Clinic) by the minister of state for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Affairs in Masvingo.
“ZPP notes with concern that the banning of CCC rallies by the police is a clear step backwards which violates principles for multi-party democracy as ascribed by the constitution.
Section 67 of the constitution sets out the political rights of Zimbabwean citizens. Citizens have the right to free, fair and regular elections and referendums and adults have the right to vote in elections and referendums.
“They may also stand for public office and, if elected, to hold public office. Section 133C of the Electoral Act provides that a person who, through intimidation, prevents or obstructs or attempts to prevent or obstruct a political party or candidate from campaigning in any election shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or to imprisonment.
“In terms of section 67(2) (a) of the constitution, Zimbabweans have the right to form political parties or to belong to political parties of their choice. Political parties and candidates for election have the right to campaign peacefully and to have access to the media to disseminate information to the electorate about their manifestos,” said the ZPP report.
In its reccomendations, the ZPP implored the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to execute their duties in a professional and non-partisan manner and fully investigate all cases of political violence.
The organisation urged political parties to rein in their supporters and sanction those who perpetrate violence and violate the rights of the electorate.
The ZPP again implored the state to promote citizens’ fundamental rights to create an environment for free, fair and credible elections.
The organisation also implored state and political players to desist from using hate-language which has the potential to incite public violence.