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Statement on increased Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe

Statement on increased Human Rights Violations in Zimbabwe

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition strongly condemns the escalation of politically motivated violence perpetrated by suspected ZANU PF supporters and the onslaught on civil society activists by state security agents. These recent developments, which have resulted in the shrinking of democratic space in Zimbabwe, are taking place against the background of possible elections later this year and are detrimental to the eventual outcome of the elections.

The past two weeks saw a rapid increase in ZANU PF and state-organised politically motivated violence leading to the maiming of close to 20 MDC supporters and innocent civilians and the displacement of more than 140 people including children. The failure by the inclusive government to reform state institutions including the military and the police service has led to the continued involvement of these groups in the perpetration of violence and their reluctance to apprehend perpetrators of such. In Hwange, a member of civil society, Fidelis Chima is alleged to have been abducted by soldiers in full gear while distributing the Bulawayo Agenda weekly newsletter, The Weekly Agenda. Such involvement of the security sector in perpetrating human rights abuses against civilians points to a state which has normalised indiscipline among its security sector.

The Coalition is equally concerned by the onslaught on civil society organisations by the police who, over the past few days raided Youth Forum offices, detained Youth Agenda Director, Arnold Chamunogwa and employees of the NGO Forum including the Director, Abel Chikomo and denied a number of organisations clearances to conduct community based activities.

The organised attacks on ZANU PF's perceived opponents indicate that the vigilante groups which were apparently in hibernation since the formation of the inclusive government have been reactivated by ZANU PF ahead of possible elections in 2011. The re-activation of these groups is calculated at causing mayhem and despondency among civilians and to arm-twist citizens to vote for ZANU PF. Article 18 (e) of the GPA clearly states that Parties to the agreement shall, 'take measures necessary to ensure that the structures and institutions that they control are not engaged in the perpetration of violence', yet ZANU PF continues to encourage violence and attack civilians for exercising their democratic right to chose which political party or political figure to support.

Of similar concern is the failure of the police to fully and impartially investigate cases of politically motivated violence with the view of bringing perpetrators to book without fear or favour. Instead of conducting an impartial and open investigation into cases of violence, the police through its Senior Assistant Commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena placed all the blame on the MDC yet some victims of the Mbare violence named known ZANU PF supporters as instigators. Such public show of partiality denotes the partisan nature of Zimbabwe's police service and is a clear sign of how, despite the existence of an inclusive government, critical institutions remain ZANU PF controlled and manipulated. Despite the parties to the GPA agreeing that the law shall be applied impartially and all perpetrators of violence shall be brought to book, it seems the inclusive government through its security sector is celebrating violence and allowing the country to slide back into the chaos which characterised the 2008 electoral process especially the 27 June Presidential election sham and the abductions of civil society leaders that characterized Mugabe's post election 'victory'.

The police are also deliberately stifling the voices of CSOs who are carrying out civic education and creating a platform for civic engagement and participation in key political processes. The intolerance towards civil society organisations comes after the ZANU PF conference resolution in 2010 which indicated that civil society organisations will be shut down by the political party. These unfolding violations of fundamental liberties are aimed at frustrating civil society organisations and crippling their work ahead of possible elections in 2011.

In this regard, the Coalition reiterates its position that elections should not be held without key reforms which include dismantling of the infrastructure of violence and reforming of key state institutions including the police and the military, as well as the taming of ZANU PF vigilante groups. As long as these areas remain unaddressed the country is likely to witness a repeat of the 2008 electoral bloodbath and sham elections.

The Coalition demands that;

  1. An independent and transparent enquiry be launched into the incidences of violence and abductions with the view of identifying the culprits and bringing them to book
  2. The inclusive government takes steps towards dismantling the infrastructure of violence
  3. Reformation of the security sector governance be made a priority by the inclusive government as this is detrimental to the outcome of any possible elections and that the militarization of the country's electoral politics stop forthwith.
  4. The inclusive government ensures that civil society organisations are able to operate without any hindrances from security agents and political party supporters. The critical point here is that the rule of law must be restored immediately by the authorities.
  5. The three main political parties in consultation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) develop a clear roadmap towards democratic elections which singles out a clear strategy towards an end to politically motivated violence and state repression.

Issued by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Contact Persons:

1. Phillip Pasirayi, Spokesperson, Mobile: +263 772697782

2. Jonah Gokova, Chairperson, Mobile: +263 772214757

McDonald Lewanika, Director, Mobile: +263 772127398

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