President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga are said to have refused to entertain the duo.

A US Embassy report on Zimbabwe’s human rights situation has described government as not willing to reform, involved in massive disregard for basic tenets of democracy and continuously repeating mistakes highlighted by observers five years ago.

The report, titled Zimbabwe Country Report On Human Rights Practises, points to voter intimidation, the role of traditional leaders, continued politicisation of food aid, politically motivated violence and heavy-handedness of state security agencies.

It focuses on the year 2022, in which Zimbabwe held by-elections to replace Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councillors who either passed on or were recalled by the MDC Alliance.

“Numerous factors contributed to a flawed election process in 2018, including: the Zimbabwe Election Commission’s (ZEC) lack of independence; heavily biased state media favouring the ruling party; voter intimidation; the unconstitutional influence of tribal leaders; failure to provide an electronic preliminary voters roll; politicization of food aid; security services’ excessive use of force; and lack of transparency concerning election results.

“Some of these factors re-emerged in numerous by-elections during the year and in the early stages of the electoral process for the 2023 general elections,” reads the report published on Tuesday.

With Zimbabwe headed to elections in August, attention has been cast on whether the Zanu PF government will be able to stem out use of politically motivated violence in its favour and against opposing parties pre-vote casting.

Analysts have already projected a bloody plebiscite.

Added the report: “There were reports that members of the police, military, and intelligence service committed numerous abuses throughout the country

“Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including an extrajudicial killing; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful.”

Despite noted positives in the report, government’s failure to account for perpetrators of sponsored incidences of violence are highlighted as stains on its efforts to reform.

The case of Sharai Mukaro who died after being tortured by police officers in Chivhu, and that of Mboneni Ncube, a victim of attacks that were witnessed in Kwekwe last year are pointed out as examples of the state’s laxity regards dealing with those implicated, particularly when linked to ruling Zanu PF.

Ncube was stabbed in the back after Zanu PF youths attacked a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rally ahead of last year’s by-elections.

“In March, media reported that suspected Zanu PF supporters abducted, intimidated, and threatened to kill the sister of the deceased opposition supporter (Ncube) if she continued calling for justice,” reads the report.

“There were no reports during the year of long-term disappearances attributed to government authorities. There were no reports of authorities punishing any perpetrators of previous acts of disappearance.

“Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) reported security forces abducted, assaulted, and tortured citizens, including targeted assaults on and torture of civil society activists, labor leaders, opposition members, and other perceived opponents of the government.

“Throughout the year, police used excessive force in apprehending, detaining, and interrogating criminal suspects. Police and military officers used excessive force and violent means to disperse peaceful demonstrations and to disrupt informal trading. On February 26, police beat opposition supporters with batons and used tear gas and water cannon spray to disperse crowds at a by-election rally in Gokwe. Prison guards occasionally beat and abused prisoners.” — NewZimbabwe

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