BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zanu PF supporters and officials were allegedly the major perpetrators of human rights abuses during the month of December 2019, a report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reveals.
In its December 2019 report, the pro-peace monitoring and documentation organisation states that police constituted 38% of perpetrators, up from 34,6% recorded in November 2019.
According to the statistics, Zanu PF ranks second at 33,17%, while 10,58% are unknown.
The Zimbabwe National Army constitutes 8,65% of the perpetrators, while the MDC is at 4,33%.
Illegal gold panners, known as MaShurugwi, contributed 3,37 % of the perpetrators, while war veterans were at 0,96 %.
Commenting on the rising human rights violations, ZPP stated: “This upward trend, if not addressed, could result in the police becoming a law unto themselves. ZPP calls for the operationalisation of Section 210 of the Constitution that enables citizens to make complaints that involve the security sector.
“Police brutality and harassment is disturbing as it presents a scenario where the supposed citizens’ protectors become a threat to the same citizens.”
Throughout December, police carried out operations to clamp down on vendors in Harare city centre and there were numerous reports of the police being heavy handed in its operations.
“On December 12, 2019, anti-riot police officers assaulted and apprehended vendors and members of the public in Harare CBD [central business district] at Market Square. In the midst of street battles with vendors, police assaulted labour rights activist, Nation Mudzitirwa, who they spotted disembarking from renowned human rights lawyer Douglas Coltart’s vehicle,” the peace watchdog said.
“Mudzitirwa sustained serious injuries on the face, back and knees. Among the victims who were apprehended were six males and seven females. The police also forced Mudzitirwa into their vehicle and later released him without any charge, before getting to Harare Central Police Station.”
Other cases recorded by ZPP include the harassment of journalists Blessing Chidakwa and Abel Karowangoro, as well as ward 43 councillor Norman Makondo (MDC), among others.
According to ZPP, “on December 13, 2019, a number of MDC youths were attacked by suspected Zanu PF youths in Shurugwi rural, ward 6, where a by-election was due to take place on December 14. Unidentified MDC youths were allegedly assaulted several times and their fliers burnt by the Zanu PF youths.”
Turning to food aid distribution, ZPP recorded several cases of people being denied food aid on political grounds.
The organisation has since urged government to ensure that every deserving citizen does not go hungry as the country faces one of its worst droughts in decades.
“Discrimination in the distribution of food and other aid remained problematic in the month of December 2019 with a 22,7% contribution to the total recorded violations. The violations also affected citizens’ other rights and freedoms such as the freedom of association,” part of the report reads.
“Communities have been receiving food aid and agricultural inputs as the rainy season has started. Unfortunately, the aid has been manipulated in many cases for political mileage and as a retribution tool. Supporters and perceived supporters of the MDC continued to be targeted with this form of discrimination as they were being punished for their political
One of the cases recorded by ZPP implicates a Zanu PF official in ward 14, Gokwe Gumunyu.
“Villagers gathered at Nyamhara Business Centre to receive rice which had been disbursed by the government and was meant for every villager. The Zanu PF chairperson in the area, Joe Madzana, informed the villagers that all the aid which is delivered in the area passes through Zanu PF structures as the ruling party and that those not in Zanu PF structures would never receive aid from the government. He then proceeded to force the villagers to sing Zanu PF songs and chant the party’s slogans. He dared those who had been aggrieved to report anywhere they wanted (and) nothing would happen to him,” ZPP said.
In its report, ZPP also points out that legislators were among the perpetrators of politicisation of aid.
“On December 29, 2019, where close to 500 villagers from Mudzi North convened at Nyamuyaruka Business Centre to receive drought relief rice from the government. The rice was distributed in a partisan manner by a Zanu PF Mudzi North ward chairperson Gilbert Makazhu with the guidance of Mudzi North legislator (Newton Kachepa),” the report further read.
“Three MDC supporters were denied the rice and the legislator told villagers that MDC supporters would never benefit from government aid and inputs since their legislators do not recognise President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa as the constitutionally-elected President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Parliament.”
ZPP urged lawmakers “to act in a manner that unifies communities because they represent every member of their constituency in Parliament.”