ZIMBABWE’S electoral processes are being stalked by organised violence and torture (OVT), leading to growing anxiety ahead of elections expected in under three months.
This was revealed in a latest report titled: Short History of Organised Violence and Torture in Zimbabwe (1972 to 2020) produced by Research Advocacy Unit in partnership with Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Heal Zimbabwe, Veritas and Counselling Services Unit.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to proclaim elections dates today.
“Organised violence and torture continue to stalk the election process with anxiety about the looming 2023 elections,” partly read the report.
Organised violence is the inter-human infliction of significant avoidable pain and suffering by an organised group according to a declared or implied strategy or system of ideas and attitudes, according to Psychiatric Association of Zimbabwe.
“An increase in OVT incidents is likely in the context of ‘hate speech’ and reckless rhetoric against parties competing against the Zanu PF party. Observing that amongst the countries governed by former liberation movements in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe tends to have more violent and disputed elections, the book reiterates that violence is strongly associated with elections, and that a disproportionate amount of the violence is directed at citizens,” the report read.
It added: “The Zimbabwean state has not been proactive is addressing election related OVT. For instance, the state failed to implement the recommendations from the Motlanthe Commission to deal with those involved in the 2018 election killings.”
In 2018, soldiers killed six civilians and injured 35 in the violence that followed elections that were narrowly won by Mnangagwa.
“In the light of this extremely disturbing history about the prevalence of OVT during elections, it is clear that serious steps must be taken to prevent a recurrence in 2023,” the report read.
“OVT can reach the threshold of crimes against humanity, and it is evident that OVT reaches this threshold when the probability of the ruling party losing political power is very high, especially over the hold on the presidency.
“Here, it is relevant that the current President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, scraped through in 2018 by the narrowest of margins. Furthermore, and notwithstanding the COVID-19 crisis, the general populace has seen a significant decline in their well-being, a condition for which they may well hold the current government responsible, and unlikely to support it again in a poll.”