Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe hotspot areas

1. Summary of Violations

Heal Zimbabwe recorded a total of 14 human rights violations from nine districts between 08 – 19 April 2017. The recorded human rights violations fell into 3 categories: Intimidation with threats of violence or threats of withdrawal of food aid or agricultural inputs, forced participation (in political meetings, polling stations, Financial or material contributions) and destruction of political gatherings. Intimidation remains prevalent in local communities with 79% (11 cases) recorded this week, followed by forced participation to political gatherings with 14% (2 cases) and disrupted meetings which recorded 7% (1 case). The continued prevalence of intimidation can be largely attributed to the ongoing restructuring exercise of ZANU PF party structures countrywide. The continued intimidation and harassment particularly of opposition members is likely to intensify as the nation approaches the 2018 national elections.

2.    Nature of Violations Recorded

3.    Number of Cases Recorded by District

In view of the above distribution of violations within the observed nine Districts, intimidation topped the list followed by 2 cases of forced financial contributions recorded in Gokwe South and Mudzi and then a single case of disrupted political gathering recorded in Makoni West.  The recurring of intimidation in all the nine districts shows that cases of intimidation are on an increase and the violation is being covertly done through instilling fear in opponents in most cases by ZANU PF activists. Increased levels of fear compromise communities’ participation in civic and other democratic processes.

4.      Our Intervention on Human Rights Violations

Heal Zimbabwe’s objective is to monitor, detect cases of human rights violations in order to ensure protection and assistance of victims so that they are able to access justice and requisite psycho-social services. Monitoring of human rights violations also help to strengthen Heal Zimbabwe’s early warning and early response networks established in local communities that help detect, monitor and prevent escalation of cases of human rights abuses.  Besides the work of early warning and early response networks, Heal Zimbabwe also engages key stakeholders such as duty bearers who include legislators, Senators, councillors and traditional leaders, Political party leaders and Independent Commissions that support democracy. The stakeholders and community members are engaged in a niche to prevent and minimise escalation of human rights violations in local communities. This helps to foster a culture of peace and tolerance where citizens enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

Conclusion

Heal Zimbabwe noted that intimidation remains dominant in most rural communities.   Traditional leaders within the local communities are involved both directly and indirectly in committing human rights violations either by way of threatening to withdraw food aid if people in their communities shun ZANU PF meetings or in cases where community members are reluctant to make donations towards Independence Day celebrations. The constitution forbids traditional leaders from engaging in political activities. Heal Zimbabwe notes that such conduct by Traditional leaders is in direct violation of section 281 of the constitution that states that “Traditional leaders must not further the interest of any political party or cause”. Heal Zimbabwe also appreciates that customarily, Traditional leaders are mandated to promote peace in local communities. Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to desist from abusing the Traditional leadership institution to achieve selfish political goals.

Annexure: Specific Cases Recorded:

Chivi South

Ward 25

On 16 April 2017, Village head George Mutote conducted a meeting at Muchakata ward center and urged community members who attended the meeting to vote for Jacob Magando, a fellow community member who plans to run for political office as a Councillor under ZANU PF in the 2018 elections. Village head Mutote also announced that members present should vote for Magando as their Councillor in 2018 if they wanted to continue receiving food aid.

Ward 31

On 15 April 2017, Village head Mureba told community members during a food registration meeting at his homestead that they were supposed to purchase ZANU PF membership cards if they wanted to continue receiving food aid. He also announced that community members who fail to produce ZANU PF membership cards during food distribution meetings would be denied food aid.

Ward 26

On 17 April 2017, Chief Shindi convened a meeting at his homestead that was attended by Village heads Takura and Makaza. The Chief ordered Village heads to deny food aid to people who failed to pay $1 contributions towards Independence Day Celebrations. The village heads have since compiled names of those who failed to make the contributions.

Gutu West

Ward 2

Village heads Shirichena and Kubwera are forcing community members to attend ZANU PF restructuring meetings in the ward. On 15 April 2017, the two Village heads sent messengers who embarked on door to door exercises warning community members that if they continued boycotting the meetings, they were going to be denied food aid. Community members have since started attending the meetings out of fear of withdrawal of food aid.

Gokwe South

Ward 12

On 11 April 2017, ZANU PF District Chairperson, Takavarasha Nharira embarked on a door to door exercise forcing people to contribute  $1 each towards Independence Day celebrations. Nharira even forced two households (names withheld for security reasons) to donate 2 goats towards the day. The commemorations were held at Kasuwe business centre. No police report on the matter has been made to date but Heal Zimbabwe is in the process of facilitating for the affected people to report the case to the police.

Mutasa South

Ward 23

On 15 April 2017, Former ward 22 Councillor, Immaculate Musakwa conducted a meeting at Premier Farm. Musakwa directed ZANU PF youths who had attended the meeting to start compiling names of all opposition party supporters in the area. The Farm is a commercial farm that was seized by war veterans during the land reform era. Musakwa also said that she was going to direct all Village heads to deny opposition party supporters food aid. Heal Zimbabwe contacted the MP for Mutasa South, Hon Irene Zindi to ascertain if she was aware of such activities in the constituency. Hon Zindi condemned the practice and said that those who were intimidating people ahead of elections were abusing her party’s name. She also promised to launch an investigation into the matter.

Chipinge South

Ward 26

On 15 April 2017, Village heads Musaunyerwa and Machona conducted a food registration exercise at Machona business centre. The two announced that community members who had failed to pay $2 towards Independence Day commemorations were not going to be registered to receive food aid.

Chipinge South

Ward 27

On 15 April 2017, ZANU PF ward chairperson, Lazarus Ndlovu and Councillor Musilaingwe Hofisi summoned Village heads Mandleyeni, Ngwana, Vheneka and Mabhunu for a meeting at Councillor Hofisi’s homestead. Ndlovu and Councillor Hofisi told the Village heads that they were supposed to deny food aid to community members who boycott ZANU PF meetings called for in their villages. The Village heads were also instructed to keep registers of all community members who boycott the meetings.

Makoni West

Ward 25

On 14 April 2017, Cuthbert Mudyanadzo, a war veteran disrupted a food distribution meeting at Chechure growth point and announced that the aid from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social welfare was only meant for ZANU PF members. He also announced that if community members wanted to continue receiving food aid, they should vote for ZANU PF in the 2018 elections. As a follow up on the matter, Heal Zimbabwe contacted, Makoni West MP, Kudzai Chipanga who said that he was not aware of the incident since he has not visited his constituency lately. However, Hon Chipanga promised to investigate the matter and stressed that food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare was supposed to benefit all community members regardless of political affiliation.

Mudzi North

Ward 17

On 18 April 2017, Councillor Kennedy Makarutse deployed several ZANU PF youths who moved around the ward forcing community members to attend Independence Day commemorations that were held at Fushira Primary school. The youths told the people that if they boycott the celebrations they risked being denied food aid. Councillor Makarutse then addressed people who had gathered at Fushira Primary school and announced that ZANU PF had devised a way to deal with community members who vote for opposition parties during elections. He announced that any community members who votes for any opposition political party will be assaulted, denied food aid or banished from the ward. He also announced that he was not going to allow opposition parties to conduct any meeting or campaign rally in the ward.

Guruve North

Ward 6

On the 15th of April 2017, Councillor Sirai Mazhambe distributed maize that had come from the Ministry of Social Welfare at Kapiripiri Primary School to ZANU PF supporters only. He announced that if opposition political party supporters wanted to receive the rice, they were supposed to purchase ZANU PF membership cards first.

Mt Darwin North

Ward 4

On the 15th of April 2017, Zindoga Katenguru a Youth Officer stopped a local ward soccer team from training at Kapiripiri primary school grounds. Katenguru accused the team members of being MDC-T supporters. He threatened the team with violence if they continued using the ground for their training sessions.

Heal Zimbabwe

We, envision a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe that celebrates diversity within local communities. Our mission is to prevent and transform conflicts with a particular focus of social justice. Our report records human rights violations mainly from key conflict and violence hotspots. The information is recorded and verified by Heal Zimbabwe trained resident human rights monitors.

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