A long four weeks
Zanu PF contributed to 73 percent of all human rights violations followed by the police, which contributed to nearly 16 percent
It was a long four weeks in March of 2022 when Zimbabwe witnessed an unprecedented increase in politically motivated human rights violations designed to suppress campaigns by the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) ahead of the by-elections held on March 26.
It was clear that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was not prepared or willing to ensure free, fair and open political and human rights friendly environment and was prepared to do anything – hook or crookto take advantage of incumbency at election time.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa confirmed this when he said while addressing a press conference early March, “I want to make it very clear, all over the world an incumbent party has an advantage of being in power to use the position of incumbency for campaigning,” he said.
Mutsvangwa added that those that felt the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was not covering opposition political party rallies should form their own media houses.
This was a direct insult to the Constitution and the laws of the land.
Section 61 (4) of the 2013 Constitution implores state-controlled media to “afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions”.
Section 160G of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] states that public broadcasters shall afford all political parties and independent candidates contesting an election such free access to their broadcasting services.
It was therefore not a surprise that the ruling Zanu PF contributed to 73 percent of all human rights violations the ZPP recorded in March followed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which contributed to nearly 16 percent of human rights violations.
In all this, general citizens, about 82 percent, were caught up as victims while about 15 percent are CCC supporters.
We can only conclude that the state security agents, who banned three CCC rallies and used brute methods to disperse CCC supporters who had gathered for a rally in Gokwe, and arrested dozens of CCC supporters for simply wearing their party colours, were doing so in a way meant to give an advantage to Zanu PF. The ruling party continued to hold its political campaigns without the slightest hindrance, and with full police protection.
Those in Zanu PF who perpetrated violence against CCC supporters got away with it.
The impunity has been so shameless that suspects in the gruesome murder of the Kwekwe CCC supporter,
Mboneni Ncube, are reported to be on a rampage, threatening to kill witnesses lined up to testify against them in court.
The Zanu PF activists also allegedly kidnapped Mboneni’s sister, Judith on 31 March and threatened to kill her for continuing to demand justice. Ncube was stabbed with a spear at a CCC rally in Kwekwe in February and police in a leaked memo identified the perpetrators as Zanu PF members.
So, it was within that uneven environment that Zimbabwe went to by-elections on March 26 and ZPP has continued to record unsettling incidents where Zanu PF activists are hounding those who supported the CCC in the run up to the by-elections.
In Dangamvura-Chikanga and Bindura North, losing Zanu PF candidates went around demanding back the mealiemeal they doled out to people during the campaign period while in Kwekwe, some vendors have been evicted from their stalls.
At Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare East, prison wardens are being victimised after Tendai Biti of the CCC got more votes than his losing rival, Mavis Gumbo.
So, as March ended, the political tensions remained high, and with CCC having won the majority of the contested National Assembly seats, Zanu PF has begun its campaign for 2023 and this is likely to keep the country on election mode, which is of great concern.