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Zimbabwe has a long history of political violence, with victims of past attacks waiting in vain for justice


Probe election-related violence



THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO-Forum has urged the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) to facilitate a credible investigation into the political violence which occurred during Zimbabwe’s election period, arguing that state agents and members of the ruling Zanu PF were major perpetrators of human rights violations.


The Forum has also recommended that police urgently release findings of investigations into all organised violence and torture (OVT)-related incidences, and the names of perpetrators of police brutality against civilians.

Zimbabwe held chaotic polls which have been flagged by major election observer missions over failure to meet local and regional guidelines for democratic elections.

The Southern Africa Development Community Election Observer Mission (SEOM), led by former Zambian vice-president Nevers Mumba raised a red flag over the shambolic electoral processes, riling the Zimbabwean authorities.

A report by The Forum titled: A Preliminary Report on Pre-Election Organised Violence and Torture: January 2021 to July 2023 shows that state agents and members of Zanu PF were the main perpetrators of rights violations during the pre-election period, with Harare and Manicaland being the worst affected provinces.

“Sadc, following its report on the 2023 Harmonised Elections, should insist that the Zimbabwe government facilitate a credible investigation of the political violence over the election period, and including the pre-election period,” read the report.

“A clear picture emerges from examining the relationship between the alleged violations and weapons, and not commensurate with the interpretation that there was little OVT or that the violations were minor. The picture is expanded when the alleged perpetrators are examined.”

“Firstly, alleged state agents — Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and ‘state agents’ — comprise over 52% of all alleged perpetrators, with the ZRP nearly half (24.2%) of this group. Secondly, the remainder, ‘non-state’ agents, comprise over 52% (52.2%) of the alleged perpetrators, and members of the Zanu PF party — Zanu PF supporters and Zanu PF youth — the vast majority (46%) of this group. Opposition political parties made up an insignificant proportion (0.5%) of alleged perpetrators.”

According to new statistics by The Forum, Zanu PF supporters accounted for 23.84% violence perpetrations, while its youth wing constituted 22.56%. Zanu PF and CIO-linked Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) constituted 0.05%, while the ZNA constituted 9.77%.

Police comprised 24.19% of all perpetrations, while the CIO comprised 1.43%.

The Forum said 20% of the violations were in connection with political events, election activities, political activities, funerals, protests, and distribution of food aid.

However, other victims said they were targeted for a range of reasons, from vending to being accused of illegal mining.

According to The Forum, Harare had the most violations with Harare 507, constituting 34.7% of all total violations, while Manicaland had Manicaland 387, constituting 26.5%. Mashonaland East is ranked third, with 181, while Matabeleland North province accounted for the fewest violations with 15, constituting 1.03%.

“The three Mashonaland provinces and the Midlands account for about 28%, while the three southern provinces — Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, and Matabeleland South — contribute a very small amount, 3%. From this breakdown, it is evident where the areas of major political contest have been, even in the heartland of generally agreed support for Zanu PF,” reads the report by The Forum.

“It is evident that opposition political parties comprise the major number of victims.
Together, over time and in different configurations, the MDC — MDC, MDC-A, MDC-T, and, most recently, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) — account for nearly 60% (59.9%) of all reported victims. Ordinary civilians account for a further 35%, and the remainder is a very tiny proportion.”

According to the report, very serious violations — that is abduction, arson, assault, attempted murder, murder, torture, and rape — comprised slightly over 63% of all reported violations.

“These are all violations that are criminal acts and would require arrest and prosecution. Assaults and torture alone comprise 62% of this total. Intimidation is another frequently reported violation, as has been common in all previous reporting on elections.

Serious criminal infractions  and intimidation comprise 75% of all violations, according to the report. In 53% of the cases, harmful weapons like axes/pangas, iron bars, whips/sjamboks, wires, booted feet, guns, sticks, stones, knives, and miscellaneous hard objects (mostly bottles) were used.

“Batons, teargas, and the use of dogs reflect encounters with the ZRP, but also in some cases with mine security agents alone or together with the ZNA and the ZRP,” reads the report.  
The Forum said the seriousness of the OVT violations should be taken seriously, as a most of the cases meet the criteria of serious crimes.

“The perpetrators are mostly drawn from the ruling party, Zanu PF. The high proportion of the ZRP alleged as perpetrators is of concern, but a more detailed analysis will indicate events in which the ZRP are mainly involved.

“However, it is a matter that such a high proportion (35%) of state agents are alleged to be perpetrators of human rights violations, whether linked to elections or not.”

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