via ZPP reports increase in violence – The Zimbabwean 24 July 2015
The Zimbabwe Peace Project reports that the month of June 2015 was filled with a number of political developments that could impact on the attainment of sustainable peace in Zimbabwe.
The 10 June by-elections were held across 16 constituencies and all the seats were won by Zanu (PF).
In the period leading up to the elections, ZPP monitored and reported numerous cases of physical violence, threats and intimidation of voters, abuse of traditional leaders and widespread vote buying using food and other forms of aid. The by-elections resulted in the consolidation of the majority of Zanu (PF) in parliament (now at 76% of the National Assembly seats) and the diminishing legislative presence of the opposition (only left with 21% of the seats).
“The weakening of the opposition is unfortunate since a stable and strong opposition is a key prerequisite for accountability through legislative checks and balances on executive power,” says ZPP’s latest report.
It also expressed concern about the vendor issue, saying “In a move that has the potential to trigger pandemonium in urban areas, on June 2 Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Commander of the Presidential Guard Brigadier- General Anselem Sanyatwe ordered vendors operating at undesignated sites in all urban areas to vacate in a week or face unspecified action. On the same day the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) vowed to defy the ultimatum arguing that they will not move until local authorities offer them alternative vending sites.”
NAVUZ argued that Zimbabwe is not in a state of emergency and inviting the army and the police to fight vendors was as good as declaring war on livelihoods. The vendors in Harare resisted the initial attempts to move them to newly designated sites on the outskirts of the Central Business District arguing that the location was not ideal for their business.
The vendors also argued that vending was their only source of livelihood due to the harsh economic environment and they were going to resist relocation unless properly located sites had been identified and allocated to them. “The situation remains tense and can degenerate into violence,” says ZPP.
The purges in Zanu (PF) continued unabated as the party took stern measures to punish those accused of working and/or supporting former Vice President Joice Mujuru. On June 11 Parliament suspended three Zanu (PF) legislators from the House of Assembly after their party notified the Speaker that the law makers had been recalled. The three were Ray Kaukonde (Marondera Central), Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Mwenezi East) and David Butau (Mbire).
On the same day, former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Olivia Muchena were booted out of the Senate. The five were part of the Zanu (PF) leaders expelled from the party on allegations of being part of a “cabal” that was plotting to topple President Mugabe in order to replace him with his former deputy Mujuru.
“The purges heighten political tensions and have the effect of fanning violence across the party structures,” says ZPP.
The Zimbabwean opposition movement has been disintegrating as power struggles and factionalism intensify. On June 3, Elton Mangoma one of the key architects of the breakaway Renewal party formed yet another opposition outfit named the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.
“The disintegration of the opposition is largely not driven by ideology but by political careerism and petty personality squabbles. The splits in the opposition weaken the parties and erode the confidence of the electorate in them since the splinter parties are not widely accepted or taken seriously. The fragmentation also dilutes the opposition’s ability to voice demands on national issues.
Violence has been pervasive in the factional fight, the number of perpetrators from the MDCT more than doubled from 15 in May 2015 to 39 in June 2015,” says the report.