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Political violence escalates



A NEW pre-election report by organisers of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Monitors Platform has unearthed unreported gory cases of politically motivated violence across the country which has left victims with varying degrees of injuries, adding to two deaths recorded this year ahead of the 23 August polls.


The report was produced by Achaleke Christian Leke, the African Union youth ambassador for peace and security who is also the executive director civil society organisation Local Youth Corner Cameroon; Alister Pfunye, the president of Southern Africa Students’ Union; Sholom Takavengwa, interim director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Monitors Platform; Magamba Network Trust #HustleFund and the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union.

The report broadly reveals that unreported political violence cases have been spreading in the country.

 “One such case that exemplifies the alarming trend occurred in Gutu South on the 9th of June. Godwin Maduyu, along with 19 others, fell victim to selective brutal attacks owing to their affiliations with the Citizens’ Coalition for Change.

“This assault serves as a stark reminder of the lengths some will go to suppress opposition and maintain the status quo,” reads part of the report.

Already known are deaths of opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change supporters Mboneni Ncube in Kwekwe ahead of the 26 March 2022 by-elections and Tinashe Chitsunge in Harare’s Glen View suburb on 3 August. The latest report also reveals unreported victims of violence that occurred last month in Norton and St Mary’s Chitungwiza.

“On the 23rd of July in Mutubva, Norton, the opposition movement faced an ordeal during a visibility campaign. Isa Catherine Ngomaikarina and seven others were targeted, subjected to an act of aggression that sought to undermine their efforts to challenge the ruling party’s dominance.

“It is incidents like these that cast a shadow of doubt over the fairness and integrity of the forthcoming elections. Another distressing case unfolded in St Mary’s, where Matthias Mazhindu, the son of opposition MP candidate Brighton Mazhindu, fell victim to an attack allegedly orchestrated by supporters of Freddy Masarirevhu, an opposition double candidate MP.

“This incident, classified as intra-party violence within the Citizens’ Coalition for Change party, underscores the deep-rooted divisions and rivalries that can erupt within political factions, further exacerbating the overall atmosphere of volatility,” reads the report.

Adding to the litany of disturbing events, members of the opposition in Chitungwiza found themselves at the receiving end of violence from Zanu PF supporters.

The report further says James Nkonde suf ered an eye injury, along with Calvin Mutiriza and Albert Masamba, who were among the victims reportedly assaulted in Chitungwiza.

 These acts of aggression, perpetrated against those daring to express dissent, are a chilling reminder of the lengths some will go to silence opposition voices, says the report.

“In Seke constituency, the door-to-door campaign of the opposition party turned into a scene of violence. Members of the party, including Melody Makoto, Aleckzander Nikisi, John Muperi, and Manuel Ziyengwa, were ruthlessly assaulted.

“This brazen attack on individuals exercising their democratic rights is a grave affront to the principles of free and fair elections. On the 23rd of August, in Chitungwiza ward 19, over 60 individuals alleged to be supporters of Zanu PF and belonging as well to a group called Black Vendetta run by a former policeman who is also a council candidate in Chitungwiza North attacked campaigners handing out fliers.

 “Pelagia Zindara was abducted and attacked the whole night. Shupikayi Nyatumaba is said to have been pinned down by three males who beat her up and almost stabbed her. All these and many more victims got seriously injured and managed to open police reports,” reads the report.

 It further highlights that the reason for this attack was the fact that the victims were handing out fliers and campaigning for opposition candidates and CCC official Wendy Chiriri. Chiriri’s house was vandalised, resulting in her losing personal property and US$500.

Researchers who compiled the report decried the recurrence of such incidents and their geographical concentration in rural areas, which are often associated with the ruling party’s stronghold.

This raises serious concerns about the credibility and fairness of the electoral process.

“As the country hurtles towards the polls, it is imperative that these acts of political violence are not only condemned but also met with concerted efforts to ensure accountability and justice for the victims. Only by addressing these issues head-on can Zimbabwe hope to foster an environment conducive to a truly democratic and inclusive electoral process,” reads the report.

The organisations urged the government to take concrete steps to end political violence and intimidation, including investigating and prosecuting perpetrators, providing protection to victims, and creating a climate of tolerance and respect for political differences.

The government is also urged to ensure that independent institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the media are free from political interference and are able to conduct their functionswithout fear or favour.

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