ZIMBABWE’s electoral environment is increasingly turning violent, with the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) bearing the brunt of attacks from suspected State security agents and Zanu PF members.
According to a latest Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) February report, police and Zanu PF top the list of human rights violators, mainly targeted at CCC supporters and ordinary citizens.
“This month (February), ZPP recorded a significant increase in the profile and scope of the human rights violations recorded. In January, ZPP recorded a total of 55 cases of human rights violations, the majority of them were of discrimination during food aid processes.
In the February report, ZPP recorded a total of 70 cases, with the majority of them being of political violence that left people injured or dead.
“In all of this, the majority of the victims, about 89%, are ordinary Zimbabweans, with nine percent being CCC supporters. Unfortunately, Zimbabwean politics continues to be haunted by cases of violence that can be avoided if Zimbabweans were more tolerant.”
Police last month used dogs, water cannons and tear gas to break up opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s rally in Gokwe after law enforcement agents defied a High Court ruling for the event to go ahead.
On February 27 in Kwekwe, one CCC supporter Mboneni Ncube lost his life while 17 others were left injured after suspected Zanu PF fanatics stormed Chamisa’s rally, attacking his supporters with spears, stones and machetes.
Police also arrested 13 CCC members, accusing them of holding a car rally and failing to obey police officers directing traffic. The supporters were allegedly severely assaulted by suspected state security agents during detention. Another 80 CCC supporters were arrested in Masvingo while campaigning door to door.
In January, five CCC activists were assaulted by police following their arrest on charges of public nuisance in Harare’s central business district (CBD).
But one of the victims, Erasmus Nyandoro told NewsDay that they were arrested for wearing CCC’s yellow regalia.
“They were chasing and beating up people, and we only realised their focus was now towards us when they started saying ‘catch those with yellow T-shirts’. That’s how we got arrested, and they started dragging and beating us in the street using button sticks and sjamboks,” Nyandoro narrated.
“At the Central Police Station, they continued beating us with baton sticks telling us that they are going to take us to a shrine for further interrogation.”
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he could not comment on claims by the ZPP that police topped the list of human rights violators.
“I have not received any report from the ZPP. I cannot respond to something that I have not seen and am not aware of. ZPP did not give us any copy so that we can see their allegations. It would be unprofessional for the police to respond to something they are not aware of,” Nyathi said.