via Political tension rising in Zim – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 19, 2015
THIS report covers recorded incidents of civil and political rights violations from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe for the month of April 2015.
The report also highlights the food situation in the provinces and focuses on how food and other aid continue to be used as a political tool.
The highlight of the reporting period has been the by-elections set for June 10, 2015 across the country.
Campaigns for this election have been characterised by threats, intimidation, physical violence and vote-buying through the distribution of rice and other commodities.
In the month of April 226 violations were recorded and these emanated from intra and inter-party conflicts fuelled mainly by the pending by-elections.
A disturbing trend noted across the country has been the politicisation of traditional leadership.
Traditional leaders like headmen have been accused of openly siding with political parties in the discharge of their duties.
This action is ultra vires the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Section 281) which clearly states that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or act in a partisan manner or further the interests of any political party.
Intra-party conflict is still endemic across the country with cases reported from across the political divide.
The majority of the intra-party cases were reported within Zanu PF.
A case of intra-party violence was also recorded within the main opposition MDC-T and this reflects a disturbing culture of violence that has become pervasive across the political divide.
An analysis of the reports received by ZPP in April 2015 notes that the number of victims of violence in Zanu PF and the MDC-T are strangely nearly the same.
An alarming increase is noted on the number of Zanu PF victims of violence, with only 49 victims affiliated to Zanu PF in March, in In April, the number of Zanu PF victims of violence rose to 154.
This threefold increase reflects the protracted factional fights within Zanu PF, which have continued to fuel conflict.
Another observation is that there is also an increase in the number of perpetrators of violence who are aligned to MDC-T.
In March, 18 perpetrators were from the MDC-T party and the number almost doubled to 35 in April.
The trend reflects the growing intra party conflict within the opposition party.
There has been an increase in the number of male victims of violence, the number of male victims almost doubled from 224 in March to 418 in April.
This trend could be indicative of the rise in the attack on political activists the majority of whom are male.
Female victims of violence increased from 116 in March to 182 in April. This indicates that women are targeted in political violence as activists in their own right and as mothers, sisters or spouses of activists.
Threats, harassment and intimidation characterised the mobilisation of communities to contribute to Independence Day celebrations held across the country.
Communities were forced to financially contribute to the celebrations and those who did not pay were sometimes viewed as “Gamatox”.
Gamatox is a derogatory name used to refer to the members who sympathise with the former Vice-President Joice Mujuru or members of the MDC-T.
Discrimination in the distribution of food and other items is still being noted across the country.
During the month of April ZPP noted with concern the xenophobic violence in South Africa where Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals have been targeted.
ZPP commends the unity that was shown during the campaign against xenophobia and wonders why the same kind of unity of purposeis not shown in condemning violence perpetrated within Zimbabwe targeting fellow Zimbabweans who have different views.
On April 17, 2015, Sydney Chisi, a human rights campaigner and the director of the Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe, was viciously assaulted by uniformed police officers during a peaceful demonstration organised by civil society organisations to protest against xenophobia.
The group of 15 truncheon- wielding police officers assaulted him all over the body to such an extent that he passed out.
This act was in direct violation of the Constitution which states in Section 52 that every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life, and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.
As at the end of April, 51 days had lapsed since the abduction and disappearance of Itai Dzamara.
ZPP remains deeply concerned and frustrated about the continued disappearance of Dzamara and the failure of the State to abide by the High Court order directing them to find him.