WAR veterans were last month a surprise inclusion into the country’s ever growing list of political violence victims, an experience which they have often been accused of visiting with impunity upon President Robert Mugabe’s opponents.
According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)’s February report on politically motivated rights violations in the country, war veterans accounted for nearly 20 percent of the victims list.
The country’s liberators have, since the emergence of a strong opposition in 1999, turned themselves into a militant defender of Mugabe’s faltering rule.
The opposition MDC-T, as usual, had the highest number of violence victims in a month in which the Zimbabwe People First followers also continued to fall victim to their former allies within Zanu PF.
“MDC-T had 23.5 percent of the incidences, while war vets made up 19.7 percent of total incidences. This is the first time that war vets have made up the victims ‘slot.
“Also noticeable is that the new party ZimPF is already posting victims,” reported ZPP.
The political affiliation for a majority of political violence victims for February at 47.9% was unknown.
The said violations against war veterans came from their abortive February 18 meeting in Harare where police were called to use water cannons and teargas to disperse the unsanctioned meeting.
The crisis meeting had been convened by their under fire chairman Chris Mutsvangwa who was later axed as war veterans minister by President Mugabe for alleged insubordination.
The ZPP report also saw Zanu PF remain the country’s most violent political entity in the country in a month in which security establishments were, similarly found among the main rights violators.
“…Most of the perpetrators of political violence for February were from Zanu-PF at 61.5 % of the incidences. ZRP had 21.3 % of the perpetrators, while CIO also had incidences they perpetrated at 7.3%.”
The ZPP said victims of violence for February were mainly in the 50-59 years age group while the main perpetrators were also found in the age bracket.
The rights group releases monthly reports of political violations which include murder, rape, intimidation, denial of food handouts, among a list of transgressions.
February showed the most common type of violence being intimidation and harassment.
The ZPP gathers its information through reports from its 420 community-based monitors (two per each of the 210 electoral constituencies of Zimbabwe).
Zanu PF has often dismissed NGO reports linking it to rights violations saying the Western sponsored groups were being paid to tarnish the ruling party’s image.