This report covers the period 21 to 28 February 2022. It focuses on documented and verified incidents of politically-motivated organised violence and torture (OVT) in the run-up to the 26 March 2022 by-elections. Information contained in this report has been obtained by on-sight monitoring of rallies by Forum officers and cases documented by its members.
The week was characterised by the intensification of political activities by the main political parties, ZANU PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). A series of political rallies were conducted as shown in the table below;
|ZANU PF||27 February||Kwekwe|
Summary of violations:Unlawful arrests
On Saturday, 26 February, 14 CCC party supporters were arrested for attending a scheduled rally in Gokwe. This was after police in Midlands called CCC organising secretary Amos Chibaya on 25 February advising him to cancel the Gokwe rally to pave way for a ZANU PF rally to be addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at Mbizo Stadium, Kwekwe, about 130km from Gokwe. The CCC made an urgent court application which was heard by Justice Sylvia Chirau-Mugomba on Saturday morning. The police denied barring the rally until a prohibition order by Chief Superintendent T. Chikono, the officer commanding police in the Gokwe district directing the CCC to “defer your by-elections campaign launch to another date” was produced. Justice Chirau-Mugomba ordered that the rally proceeds. However, in defiance of the order, the police continued to block the rally. Eleven of the arrested faced charges of disorderly conduct while three were charged with failure to wear face masks.
The arrested were Sambulo Malata, Dzikamunhenga Chengeta, Phillip Mapuranga, Vengai Majoni, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Peter Mangwiro, Ester Magaramaza, Tabeth Manwayi Muzenda, Elizabeth Chitemeya, Josphat Mahachi, Florence Kore, Nkosana Gomo, Junior Mateyesanwa, and Patricia Nhau. They will all be released on 28 February 2022 after paying admission of guilty fines.
- On Saturday, 26 February, police violently disrupted a CCC rally in Gokwe, teargassing party supporters waiting to be addressed by their leader Nelson Chamisa. Police deployed water cannons and used button sticks to disperse the party supporter.
- On Sunday 27 February, two CCC members in Epworth, Darlington Chinembiri and James Mukwapa were attacked by ZANU PF activists while conducting door-to-door campaigns. It is alleged that one of them was shot by a catapult resulting in excessive bleeding from the eye. Their case was reported at Domboramwari Police Station.
- Six CCC members who were conducting door-to-door campaigns in Dhonoro Farm in Epworth were viciously attacked by ZANU PF activists. One CCC activist managed to run away while reportedly bleeding from the head. The other five: Agnes Mabhena, Patricia Zihanzu, Nobody Makoni, Darlington Nembiri, and Tonderai Mudodo reported the matter at Domboramwari Police Station but were detained after ZANU PF activists made a counterclaim that it was the CCC supporters who attacked them. The five CCC supporters were seriously injured. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), a Forum member intervened and managed to get three of them temporarily released to seek medical treatment.
- One CCC supporter died while 18 were seriously injured when ZANU PF supporters unleashed violence at the opposition party rally at Mbizo 4 Shopping Centre in Kwekwe on 27 February. The ZANU PF supporters allegedly used spears and machetes to attack the scores of CCC supporters listening to Chamisa’s address.
- On 22 February, a CCC member was severely assaulted at Cherutombo, Marondera, by youths who were clad in ZANU PF regalia. During the day, he was putting up posters for the CCC candidate for Marondera Central, Caston Matewu, and at 7pm, he was waylaid by the youths who beat him up and fled in an unmarked pick-up truck.
- Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga threatened to destroy the CCC like “lice.” Addressing a ZANU PF rally in Kwekwe on February 26, VP Chiwenga said President Mnangagwa was implementing developmental projects and there was no need for people to just oppose good government programmes for the sake of opposing them. He said ZANU PF was unflinching in its resolve to ‘crush’ the CCC ‘like lice’.
- On 26 February, ZANU PF supporters disrupted a rally by the Labour Economists & African Democrats (LEAD) in Epworth, Domboramwari. The ZANU PF supporters were later dispersed by the police after the leader, Linda Masarira reported the matter to the law enforcement agents.
- The police banned the CCC Gokwe rally on 26 February to pave way for President Mnangagwa’s rally in Kwekwe, despite that CCC got clearance on 22 February. The police also arrested three CCC members for not putting on facemasks, ignoring the oversubscribed ZANU PF rally where the majority had no face masks.
- ZANU PF continues to use school buses to ferry its supporters to the Kwekwe rally on 26 February, in violation of a ruling by the Masvingo High Court during 2018 harmonised elections that barred ZANU-PF and all political parties from using school buses and school premises for political was recently overturned on appeal.
Impact of COVID-19 on electionsPolitical parties continue to flout COVID-19 rules and protocols during campaign rallies. Few people will be wearing face masks, no practicing social distancing, and no sanitisation.
Incidences of violence are rising and the Forum condemns the violence by all political parties and continues to call for political tolerance. The Forum urges the government to condemn all forms of violence and institute investigations to bring the perpetrators to book.