Amnesty International Zim Report

Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.2 million people in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion - funded


1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………..1

About this report …………………………………………………………………………………………..    3

2 Human rights violations perpetrated to maintain political power………………………….           4

3 Violations in the 2008 elections……………………………………………………………………….    6

29 March election run-up……………………………………………………………………………….       6

27 June presidential run-off ……………………………………………………………………………      6

ZANU-PF torture camps………………………………………………………………………………..         7

ZANU-PF denials …………………………………………………………………………………………       8

Political parties' involvement …………………………………………………………………………        8

Case studies………………………………………………………………………………………………….   8

4 Humanitarian situation exacerbated………………………………………………………………..     13

Humanitarian operations banned …………………………………………………………………..       13

Destruction of livelihoods of rural farmers……………………………………………………..            14

5 Sexual violence …………………………………………………………………………………………… 16

6 Driven deeper into poverty ……………………………………………………………………………    17

Use of food as a political tool ……………………………………………………………………….       17

Forced to feed government supporters……………………………………………………………         17

Lost livelihoods…………………………………………………………………………………………..      18

7 The Zimbabwe Republic Police……………………………………………………………………..       19

Law and Order section …………………………………………………………………………………       19

Anti-riot police……………………………………………………………………………………………      21

8 International law …………………………………………………………………………………………. 24

The right to a remedy…………………………………………………………………………………..      25

9 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26

10 Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………… 27

Recommendations to the government of Zimbabwe ………………………………………..            27

Recommendations to the international community ………………………………………….           30


AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008 Amnesty International


Time for accountability

1 Introduction

I am now disabled. I can't work in the field. I want to be compensated for the injuries. I want

to talk to my attackers and be told the truth about why I was beaten. I also want them to be

brought to justice.

Lyn, an 86-year-old woman victim of politically motivated violence, August 2008

The power-sharing agreement reached by Zimbabwe's three main political parties in

September 20081 has created a rare moment of opportunity for Zimbabwean

authorities to tackle the long-standing legacy of impunity for human rights violations

and build a culture of accountability. Amnesty International is issuing this report at

this time to draw attention to the importance of addressing the long-standing problem

of impunity for human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International is appealing to the government of Zimbabwe to institute a

series of measures to break the culture of impunity which has persisted since 2000,

and which was a major factor in the wave of politically motivated human rights

violations after elections on 29 March 2008.


Impunity is the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. It

denies the victims their right to justice and redress. It means that it is not possible to

hold those responsible for violations to account — whether in criminal, civil,

administrative or disciplinary proceedings — since they are not subject to any inquiry

that might lead to their being accused, arrested, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced

to appropriate penalties. Nor is it possible to ensure that victims receive reparations.

Impunity arises from a failure by states to meet their obligations to investigate

violations; to ensure that those suspected of criminal responsibility are prosecuted,

tried and duly punished; to provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure that

they receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the right to know the truth

about violations; and to take other necessary steps to prevent their recurrence.2 The

UN Special Rapporteur on torture has noted that impunity continues to be the

principle cause of the perpetuation and encouragement of human rights violations and,

in particular, torture.3

Despite Zimbabwe's legal obligations to tackle impunity, the people who have violated

human rights since 2000, and most recently in the context of the 2008 elections,

have not been made to account for their actions. In particular those in the security

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forces, war veterans4 and supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union-

Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) have faced no investigation, prosecution or censure. On the

contrary, they appear to have been encouraged to commit further human rights

violations by the failure of the government to take action against perpetrators of

human rights violations.

Amnesty International's findings show that the violence that followed the presidential,

parliamentary and local government elections on 29 March 2008 was sponsored by

the government. The Zimbabwe security forces – army, police and intelligence service

– were directly involved in committing human rights violations against perceived

opponents of the ZANU-PF government. The security forces (including retired

members) and some war veterans were the main force behind the human rights

violations. They also organized ZANU-PF supporters to commit human rights abuses

against opposition supporters.

People suspected to have voted for the opposition parties, human rights defenders5

and officials of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were targeted for

beatings, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary

killing, abduction, forced eviction and displacement. The victims also had their homes

destroyed, their food reserves plundered, their livestock killed, or were injured so

badly that they could no longer earn a living. Few of these cases have ever been

investigated as perpetrators appear to enjoy state protection.

The plight of the victims was compounded by the government's decision on 4 June

2008 to impose a ban on the field operations of NGOs and humanitarian

organizations. Victims who lost their food supplies during the violence continue to

face acute food insecurity.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the culture of impunity which

permeates the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). In 2007, Amnesty International

documented a series of human rights violations by the Law and Order Section and the

anti-riot unit in the ZRP. Suspected government opponents were beaten, tortured and

detained in a manner that denied their internationally guaranteed rights. The

allegations of torture, excessive use of force and related violations by the police have

not been investigated and those responsible have not been held to account.

There can be no durable resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis without deliberate

government measures to break the culture of impunity. The failure to ensure justice

and redress prolongs and intensifies the pain felt by the victims and their families. It

also effectively gives a green light to the perpetrators to continue. The government has

an obligation under international human rights law to ensure the right of victims of

human rights violations to an effective remedy.6

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The right to a remedy

The right to a remedy has three elements: truth, justice and reparation. States must

establish the facts about violations of human rights that have occurred; they must

investigate those violations and bring the perpetrators to justice; and they must

provide victims and their families with full and effective reparation in the form of

restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition

(see Chapter 8).

Many victims of human rights violations interviewed by Amnesty International in

Zimbabwe believe that they should be able to realize their right to an effective remedy,

including by having their attackers brought to justice. Victims should also be able to

bring civil claims in the courts to seek compensation and other forms of reparation for

human rights violations.

Most victims said that they could name and identify their attackers, who were in the

security forces, war veterans or local ZANU-PF activists. The fact that perpetrators

did not attempt to conceal their identities clearly shows that they were acting with


Amnesty International is urging the government to address past human rights

violations in a manner that fulfils Zimbabwe's international human rights obligation to

end impunity for human rights violations.

About this report

This report is based on Amnesty International's field research, interviews with victims

of human rights violations, their families and other witnesses, health workers, reports

by other organizations and media reports. Amnesty International visited Zimbabwe in

August-September and November 2007 as well as March and July-August 2008.

The report outlines the context in which human rights violations have been taking

place in Zimbabwe and describes patterns of violations as illustrated by cases. It

focuses on violations that took place after the 29 March 2008 elections, as well as

human rights violations committed by two units within the Zimbabwe Republic Police

in 2007. It sets out Zimbabwe's obligations under international human rights law and

makes a series of recommendations to the government, aimed at ending human rights

violations and breaking the culture of impunity as well as addressing the suffering of

victims of past violations.

Some names of the victims have been altered for their own security and safety.

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2 Human rights violations perpetrated to maintain

political power

The human rights situation in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating since February 2000

when the ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe lost a referendum on a

draft constitution. This was the first defeat of the ZANU-PF government since the

country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980. Before the formation

of the MDC in 1999, Zimbabwe's political landscape was dominated by a single party

(ZANU-PF) which had managed to retain its political dominance by limiting the ability

of opposition parties to organize, including by denying them access to state controlled

radio, television and newspapers, using state resources to further a partisan agenda

and undermining state institutions such as the judiciary which had shown a degree of

independence. ZANU-PF's tactics included harassment, intimidation and use of

excessive force by police against the party's opponents in opposition parties or civil

society organizations. Their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association and

expression were restricted, leaving them virtually unable to organize.

The emergence of the MDC, a political party with support from the trade unions and

civil society, posed a real threat to ZANU-PF's hold on power and ZANU-PF won

narrowly in a disputed parliamentary election held in June 2000.7 The MDC's Morgan

Tsvangirai also lost to Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF in a disputed presidential election

in 2002.

Faced with increased opposition from the MDC, largely as a result of deteriorating

economic conditions, and growing discontent among civil society, the Zimbabwean

authorities increased restrictions on civil and political rights, mainly the rights to

peaceful assembly, freedom of association and expression. Opponents of the ZANU-PF

party were targeted for arbitrary arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture and other illtreatment.

Confronted with the growth of an opposition and in the face of

unprecedented economic decline, the ZANU-PF government increasingly relied on

state security forces to retain power and to contain the growing opposition to its rule.

The increasing reliance by the government on the security forces, and the

participation of the security forces in serious human rights violations, were very clear

in the violence by ZANU-PF in the campaign for the Presidential election run-off on

27 June 2008.

Just five days before the 27 June presidential election run-off, Morgan Tsvangirai of

the MDC pulled out of the election, saying a free and fair election was impossible

because of extreme violence targeted at supporters of the MDC by the security forces.

Although he pulled out of the election, the Zimbabwe Election Commission ruled that

the election would go ahead as per the election rules.

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Among those who instigated the violence were members of the Joint Operations

Command (JOC), a powerful group made up of senior military, intelligence, prisons

and police officials, and government representatives, who publicly stated their loyalty

to President Mugabe. They went as far as declaring that they would not salute Morgan

Tsvangirai even if he was elected leader.8

Victims of the violence told Amnesty International that senior army and police officers

threatened to kill them if they voted for the MDC. There is no evidence that the

government conducted any investigations into the allegations of serious human rights

violations committed by members of the security forces during the election run-up


A small number of people in Zimbabwe have a vested interest in perpetuating the

culture of impunity in order to escape accountability for human rights violations or to

retain their wealth and privileges. Some of these individuals were implicated in the

politically motivated violence that followed the 29 March 2008 elections. They

include senior serving and retired members of the army, intelligence service and

police, as well as war veterans and ZANU-PF officials.

Endemic corruption within the ruling elite has led to a situation of acute economic

disparity in which a few individuals have acquired vast wealth while the rest of the

population continues to face increasingly severe deprivation. These individuals have

exploited their political connections with government to access scarce commodities

for export or for sale locally at exorbitant prices. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe has asserted that the country lost an estimated US$1.7 billion per year

through economic sabotage perpetuated by a few with the knowledge or complicity

of government officials.9 He also alleged that diamonds worth over US$800 million

have been smuggled out of the country, as has an average of 15 tonnes per year of

gold worth over US$400million/year.10 For this wealthy elite to retain its wealth, it is

imperative that the government continues to be controlled by those who support their

interests, or at least turn a blind eye to their dealings.

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3 Violations in the 2008 elections

"On 29 March [2008] people voted and expected to get the results within a reasonable time.

Little did they know that they had unleashed a monster."

A Chief from Mashonaland East, August 2008

The run-up to the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections on 29

March 2008 was more open than previous election periods, despite governmentimposed

restrictions on the opposition's capacity to organize openly and reports of

abuses in rural areas. Similarly, the environment for voting in the 29 March elections

themselves was less tense than in previous elections. However, the months between

the 29 March elections and the 27 June presidential run-off were marked by a sharp

rise in political violence.

29 March election run-up

Amnesty International delegates who visited Zimbabwe in March in the run-up to the

elections observed that the government was putting in place unlawful restrictions11 on

the rights to freedom of expression and association and the right of peaceful assembly.

Police were applying the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) in a partisan manner –

restricting the activities of opposition parties, while allowing supporters of ZANU-PF to

hold meetings without interference.

Although opposition parties appeared to be enjoying a greater degree of access to

previously no go zones in rural areas than they did during previous elections, reports

of intimidation, harassment and violence against supporters of opposition parties

persisted. People in rural areas told Amnesty International delegates that they were

fearful of retribution after the elections.12

In March 2008, several civil society organizations reported that they were under

constant surveillance by state intelligence services – including the police and the

Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). Amnesty International delegates witnessed

one such incident of harassment by police in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo,

when a leading member of an NGO was visited by police after they found out that he

was meeting with Amnesty International. The police kept making threatening calls

even after they had indicated that he had done nothing wrong.

27 June presidential run-off

Between the 29 March elections and the 27 June 2008 presidential election run-off

the human rights situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated sharply. Amnesty International

documented unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment of political activists

affiliated to the MDC and human rights defenders. Sources in Zimbabwe documented

over 180 violence related deaths and more than 9,000 people tortured and beaten.

The bulk of these victims reported being attacked because they were accused by

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security forces, war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters of having voted wrongly in

the March elections.

The violations that took place after the March elections were state-sponsored. The

violations were primarily perpetrated by war veterans, ZANU-PF supporters, and also

state security forces – army officers, CIO agents and police officers. Accounts from

diverse victims indicate that the perpetrators were using government vehicles13 and

enjoyed state protection from arrest.

During the period leading up to the presidential election run-off, the government of

Zimbabwe created or allowed conditions of extreme insecurity in the country. Known

MDC activists, their family members, sympathizers and other government critics at all

levels were at risk of abduction, torture and other ill-treatment and, in some cases,

death. In rural areas people suspected to have voted for the MDC in the March

election were identified with the help of traditional leaders and local ZANU-PF leaders.

Victims had their homes burned down, livestock killed, and granaries plundered or

destroyed as a form of punishment. Although it was difficult to quantify the number of

internally displaced people, an estimated 28,000 people fled their homes as a result

of the violence. The majority of them fled to urban areas to seek medical attention

and refuge.14

The violence impacted negatively on the already strained health sector. For example,

in August doctors told Amnesty International that the country had run out of crutches

and that between 300 and 500 pairs had to be imported. The number of victims with

broken legs and arms was overwhelming: Amnesty International saw whole hospital

wards filled with people with broken limbs.

ZANU-PF torture camps

In most wards of Mashonaland, Midlands, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces, war

veterans and local ZANU-PF leaders established makeshift torture camps. The camps

were set up in the form of tents, clearings within a community, classrooms or at the

homestead of ZANU-PF officials or displaced MDC activists.15 Led by serving or

retired army officers, war veterans or ZANU-PF leaders, the camps, also known as

bases, were known to the police and were only dismantled some time after the

election on 27 June.

Local people were forced to attend all-night meetings at these camps. There, people

were made to watch their neighbours being beaten and warned that if they did not

vote for ZANU-PF on 27 June they would face a similar fate. MDC supporters were

forced to denounce the party and surrender all their party materials, including t-shirts

and membership cards. Dozens of MDC supporters died after beatings at these camps.

Local youths were forced to attend the camp meetings and participate in beatings.

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The Zimbabwean police were aware of such camps but took no effective steps to close

them. Amnesty International delegates saw one such camp in Sunningdale, Harare

which was located less than 300 metres from a police station. In the few cases when

police went to rescue MDC activists, no arrests were made. However, some victims

told Amnesty International that many junior police officers appeared to be keen to act

against perpetrators but reported being restrained by superior orders not to intervene

in cases involving war veterans and the security forces.

ZANU-PF denials

One of the strategies employed by ZANU-PF and the government to avoid taking

responsibility for human rights violations is that of consistently denying the facts.

They have either denied that violations have occurred, or sought to shift the blame to

the victims or external forces. For example, in response to allegations of statesponsored

violence against ZANU-PF opponents, the party blamed the violence on the

MDC and former Rhodesian security elements who they accused of fomenting

political violence within the ranks of the MDC itself and between it and ZANU-PF.16

Since 2000 the ZANU-PF government has ignored evidence of human rights violations,

thereby exempting perpetrators from any form of accountability. Consequently,

suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations continue to operate with a

sense of impunity, buoyed by the government's repeated and deliberate failure to

bring to justice those who commit serious human rights violations.

Political parties' involvement

On 6 August 2008, the MDC and ZANU-PF issued a joint statement acknowledging

that some of the violence after the 29 March election was attributable to the two

parties. However, from the evidence gathered by Amnesty International, the bulk of

the violence was state-sponsored and carried out by security forces, ZANU-PF

supporters and war veterans. Human rights defenders reported inter-party

retaliatory attacks in Mayo resettlement area in Manicaland province, Bikita and Zaka

in Masvingo province. Amnesty International equally calls for these human rights

abuses to be investigated and those suspected to have been involved should be

brought to justice.

Case studies

Pregnant woman assaulted in Gutu

Clara is a 32-year-old woman from Gutu who was assaulted for being an MDC activist.

At the time of her assault she was five months pregnant.

On 16 June, ZANU-PF called for a political meeting at Mupandawana growth point

[rural business centre]. I didn't go to that meeting. At night a group of about 200

ZANU-PF supporters came to my home and demanded to see me and [my sister].

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They ordered us to come out. When we didn't they started breaking doors. They went

through each and every room in the house until they got to the room where I was

sleeping. On that day I was not feeling well. I was five months pregnant at the time.

They dragged me outside and started hitting me with thick sticks. They accused me of

being misled by Morgan Tsvangirai. They said they wanted to teach me a lesson. At

the same time they were also assaulting my sister. She collapsed. They were hitting

me on the buttocks. They ordered me to roll on the ground and were stamping on me

saying they wanted to inflict internal injuries. At some point some people in the group

felt sorry for me and were calling on their colleagues to stop beating me since I was

pregnant, but others said I should be beaten as a lesson to other MDC supporters.

While the beating was going on, others were throwing out furniture from my rented

room. They poured water onto the wardrobe. My sister was made to sing MDC songs

while I was ordered to chant ZANU-PF slogans. I couldn't because I was feeling cold

and shivering. Then the beating stopped. They took my sister's identity card to prevent

her from voting [in the 27 June election]. They could not find mine. All our furniture

was left in the open. Before the mob left they assigned five people to guard us. They

took away all the money I had and our food. After the guards' left we then went to the

home of another MDC activist we knew but he had also been attacked.

I went to report the case at Gutu Mupandawana police station. We were given forms

to request medical examination. When we got back home we were told that the war

veterans' had come and told the landlord to evict us. I then left for Masvingo to seek

medical treatment after borrowing some money.

On 17 June another large group of ZANU-PF supporters came to our house

accompanied by soldiers in uniform. It was a very large group. They ordered my sister

to take all our furniture out of the room we rented. My sister was again assaulted by

the youths under the supervision of the soldiers. Another tenant at the house, a

schoolboy in his early teens, was also assaulted. The mob took our maize, mealie-meal,

cooking oil and soap. The soldiers were guarding the property as the ZANU-PF mob

ransacked the place. They were singing ZANU-PF songs while destroying furniture.

MDC woman activist assaulted by soldiers and left for dead

Beatrice is a local official of the MDC-Tsvangirai party in Gutu. She said:

On 18 June ZANU-PF called for a village meeting [at the local primary school]. I

refused to go and surrender my [t-shirt and membership card]. I told them that I could

not surrender an MDC t-shirt to ZANU-PF. I then went to the business centre to have

my hair plaited. At around 1pm I saw a truck full of soldiers but it did not stop for

long. After a while the soldiers returned. I heard [named ZANU-PF activist] calling out

my name. He was carrying with him a list of names [of known MDC activists and

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supporters in the area]. He asked me to accompany him and I immediately felt that

something was going to happen.

I was taken to the soldiers who ordered me to lie on the ground, but someone said I

should not be beaten in public. I was then ordered to get into the army truck. In the

truck the soldiers started questioning me about MDC meetings and the activities of

other MDC members. They ordered me to do a ZANU-PF slogan but I wouldn't. After a

while the vehicle stopped and we got off. I was forced to lie on the ground and was

assaulted by about 15 soldiers with thick sticks on the buttocks until I passed out.

When I regained consciousness they started assaulting me again and I passed out for

the second time. When I came around again Colonel [name] kicked my head and I felt

pain in my ear and I passed out for the third time. When I came around, they ordered

me to roll on the ground. I pleaded with them to just shoot me since I was almost

dead. They said they had no bullets to waste. They then continued assaulting me with

sticks. They told me that it was the last day of my life. I felt pain close to my heart

after they gave me two lashes on my back. They then removed my shoes and started

hitting me underneath my feet. When they thought I was dying they ordered one

woman to smear ashes on my face so that my spirit would not avenge. I think I passed

out because when I regained consciousness there was water all over and the soldiers

were gone.

I called on God to give me strength to walk and got up but collapsed before I got

home. Other villagers helped me to get home. I only got medical help on 27 June.

Before then other villagers were threatened with violence if they were to assist me to

get medical help. When I went back home on 12 July I found that all my chickens had

been taken to feed the people at the [ZANU-PF] camp.

At the time of the interview, Beatrice was still being threatened by local war

veterans and ZANU-PF leaders.17

Soldiers behind politically motivated violence in Gokwe

Before the announcement of the results of the 29 March presidential election an army

major toured parts of Gokwe, Midlands province, holding meetings to address

residents and accusing them of not having voted correctly in the March election.

In one incident the army major ordered local war veterans to call a meeting of all

village heads in the area. At the meeting he ordered village heads to support the

setting up of ZANU-PF camps from which ZANU-PF supporters and war veterans

could operate, and to mobilize resources to feed the people at the camps.

After the camps were set up, war veterans recruited youths to beat suspected MDC

supporters. Initially they just recruited ZANU-PF youths, but later they forced

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repentant MDC youths to join in the beatings. Those who refused were beaten and

had their homes burned down.

On 4 June 2008, a meeting was held at Tsungayi business centre. The meeting was

addressed by soldiers, including the army major, who were armed with weapons

including AK47 rifles. A number of MDC supporters were ordered to repent and

renounce the MDC party. They were taken through a baptism which included a

public flogging and were ordered to pay fines for having voted for the MDC. Fines were

paid in the form of goats, which were taken by the army major. Around the same time

nine shops at Tsungayi business centre were burned down by war veterans,

including one owned by MDC-Tsvangirai's senatorial candidate, Liah Makoni.

Some of the victims attempted to report the crimes at Nembudziya police station but

police refused to record the cases.

ZANU-PF youths under police instruction kill relative of MDC official

Kingswell Muteta, a police officer, was fatally beaten by ZANU-PF supporters in Mudzi

district on 17 July 2008 after visiting the family of his brother-in-law, an MDC ward

chairperson reportedly beaten to death by ZANU-PF supporters. Witnesses said that

Kingswell Muteta confronted a group of ZANU-PF youths who were under the

instruction of a senior police officer. The same group of ZANU-PF youths had earlier

assaulted Kingswell's mother to punish her for attending the funeral of her son-in-law,

the MDC activist. The ZANU-PF youths took Kingswell Muteta to a camp near Kotwa

and accused him of having gone to an enemy's home. He was beaten by about 20

youths. He sustained mainly soft tissue injuries on his buttocks, trunk and lower

limbs.18 He was taken to Kotwa Hospital on 18 July and then to Avenues Clinic on 21

July. He died of his injuries on 25 July 2008.

War veterans', ZANU-PF supporters and state agents collaborate

CM, an MDC-Tsvangirai director for elections in one of the districts of Mashonaland

Central province, was elected as councillor, on 29 March 2008. On 1 June ZANU-PF

held a rally at Nyava growth point. When CM went to the growth point in the company

of four MDC youths, he was first confronted by war veterans in two vehicles who

asked him why he was not attending the ZANU-PF rally. After the rally he was again

approached by about 10 war veterans, one of whom was a women who produced a

gun and said the MDC will never rule this country, which was taken through the

barrel of the gun. They threatened him with violence and ordered him to surrender to

ZANU-PF. They told him that he would be fixed if he did not comply.

On 15 June, a camp was established in CM's ward led by four named war veterans.

The next day, CM's wife and 15-year-old daughter were seized by ZANU-PF youths

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and asked why they were not attending a ZANU-PF meeting. They were then forcibly

marched from the hills to a rally at Nyava growth point. At the rally, war veterans

ordered some ZANU-PF youths to take CM's wife and daughter to the ZANU-PF camp

and to beat his wife. They were kept at the camp from about 10am to 6pm, though

the youths did not go ahead with the beating. Mother and daughter were later released

and ordered to bring CM so that he could surrender his MDC t-shirts and membership

card. For a while the family lived in hiding in the surrounding hills to evade capture.

On 21 June, a gang of over 50 ZANU-PF youths surrounded CM's home and

summoned him to the camp. He refused to go with them. They then went away and

returned accompanied by four war veterans. He was told to leave the MDC and

defect to ZANU-PF in order to force a by-election. They also told him that ZANU-PF

would give him security, while as an MDC member he risked being killed. The gang

then left. CM told Amnesty International what happened next:

On 22 June, at about 10pm, my home was attacked by ZANU-PF supporters. I first

heard dogs barking. I looked through the window and saw my home surrounded. They

knocked on the door and ordered me to come out and accompany them to the camp

but I refused. I saw them going to the chicken run and the goats' pen and they found

nothing. I recognized some of them… They said that it was the end of me. Then they

started stoning the door and forced it to open but I did not come out. Then they

started stoning the whole house and it started to collapse, while we were still in the

house. I then decided to run, but only managed to run for about 50 metres and they

caught me. They started beating me with metal bars breaking both my legs. They said

they wanted to kill me to force a by-election. I then passed out.

While he was still unconscious, CM, his wife and daughter were taken to a ZANU-PF

camp. CM could not hear what was going on, but his wife later told him that the war

veterans phoned the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to report that they had

captured him. CIO officers came to the base and were briefed by the war veterans.

The wife overheard their leader saying that CM should be put in a sack and thrown

into Pote River. The CIO officers were reportedly angry that the war veterans had

brought the wife and daughter who could be potential witnesses. After some

disagreement, the CIO officers refused to take CM and his family in their truck, saying

they did not want to have to kill three people. The CIO then left. At about 2am the

war veterans ordered CM's wife to take her husband home.

The following day the family helped CM board a bus to Harare where he sought

medical attention. Both his legs were fractured. CM is a peasant farmer. He will not

be able to work his fields for months as a result of his injuries. At the time of the

interview in August 2008 his family had still not returned home, fearing for their

safety, while CM was still in hospital. CM's case has not been investigated and no

steps have been taken to bring any of the perpetrators to justice.

Time for accountability 13

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

4 Humanitarian situation exacerbated

Humanitarian operations banned

The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe reached crisis levels in the period between

April and August 2008, mainly because of the government's decision to suspend the

field operations of humanitarian organizations. The suspension also meant that human

rights violations could be carried out without being witnessed by humanitarian field


In the run-up to the 29 March elections, NGOs and UN agencies reported cases of

friendly warnings or restrictions on their operations by government officials or

influential members of the community, including war veterans and ZANU-PF

supporters.19 The friendly warnings were in effect threats that led most NGOs and

humanitarian agencies to stop their operations.

On 4 June 2008, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare wrote to

all NGOs and Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) announcing a full suspension of

all field operations by humanitarian organizations. The Minister alleged that the

organizations were in breach of their terms and conditions of registration, but gave no

further details. There is no provision empowering the Minister to order the suspension

of NGO or PVO operations under the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. Section 21

of the Act, which the government relied on, had been declared void by the

Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe.20

The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare issued another letter on 13

June to clarify the suspension. In that letter the Ministry stated that the suspension

did not imply banning operations at Head Office, Regional and District Offices but

did ban the field operations of NGOs and PVOs. It explained that the suspension was

meant to allow investigations into allegations that PVOs and NGOs involved in

humanitarian operations were breaching the terms and conditions of their registration

by engaging in political activities.

On 15 June, while addressing a campaign rally in Silobela, President Mugabe said

that the government had suspended NGOs because they were using food handouts as

a weapon to effect illegal regime change. President Mugabe further alleged that

NGOs were collecting people's identity cards and not returning them, so

disenfranchising voters. No NGO was named and the allegations were not


The NGOs and PVOs which had their field operations banned were providing food and

medical care to millions of people, many of whom were the victims of state-sponsored

violence, including looting and destruction of food stocks.

During this period the provision of health services such as antiretrovirals for AIDS

patients, tuberculosis treatment and medication and care for other chronic conditions

14 Time for accountability

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

was also severely disrupted, affecting both the internally displaced and a significant

proportion of the general population.21

Although on 29 August 2008 the government announced an easing of the restrictions

on humanitarian operations, restrictions continued to be enforced at local level by

war veterans, local structures of ZANU-PF, traditional leaders, CIO operatives and

soldiers. Humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies, which attempted to

deliver food in rural areas were forced to abandon their activities because of the threat

of violence by either state agents or ZANU-PF supporters. However, in October 2008

some NGOs reported having some access to rural areas.

According to the UN, more than two million people were in need of food aid by

September and this number was set to more than double by December 2008. If the

government continues to interfere with humanitarian operations the situation could

become more desperate.

Increased food insecurity caused by the ban on humanitarian operations was

compounded by state-sponsored violence throughout the country as tens of thousands

of people lost their food reserves when they were plundered or destroyed by ZANU-PF

supporters. Looted food was frequently used to feed youths and party supporters who

gathered at all-night meetings during the election campaign.

In addition, hyper-inflation has eroded the capacity of most urban families to access

the little food available on the market. Maize, the country's staple diet, remains

unavailable in most shops. Where it is available on the black market, the price is

pegged against the US dollar, making it too expensive for the average Zimbabwean

household. Amnesty International delegates saw thousands of people queuing for local

currency at banks or for basic goods in shops.

Destruction of livelihoods of rural farmers

Victims of state-sponsored political violence interviewed by Amnesty International

from rural areas were mainly farmers who had had their harvest destroyed, their

livestock (including cattle) killed and their granaries burned as a punishment for not

supporting ZANU-PF. Moreover, many of these people had also been beaten by

members of the security forces, war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters. Many

suffered broken arms or legs, and would therefore be unable to till their lands during

the next farming season and in some cases for the rest of their lives.

At the peak of the violence, normal economic activity virtually ceased in many rural

areas as villagers were forced to attend ZANU-PF campaign meetings, which in some

areas were conducted daily, with every villager expected to attend. The areas affected

were mainly, but not exclusively, in Mashonaland, Manicaland, Midlands and

Masvingo provinces. Those who did not or could not attend, even if they were not

affiliated to the MDC, were subjected to torture, beatings and other ill-treatment.

Time for accountability 15

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

74-year-old attacked because of his son's political affiliation

Denga is a rural farmer who was attacked because his son was a local MDC activist in

Gokwe. Before the attack his family had been made to renounce the MDC and join

ZANU-PF. He was fined a goat by the local ZANU-PF leadership for having voted

wrongly during the 29 March election.

On 3 July my daughter came and knocked at my door screaming that my son, [a local

MDC-Tsvangirai secretary], was being attacked by ZANU-PF youths. I saw them

assaulting my son and daughter. When I came out they ran away and I took my son

into the house, but the youths came back and started stoning my house. I came out

and started running, but I fell. They caught up with me and started to hit me with

stones. My leg was fractured in three places. After that they ordered me to accompany

them to the ZANU-PF camp but I could not walk. They then assaulted me some more

and left. I then crawled and sought help at a neighbour's home. I found that everyone

had also run away. I managed to light a fire and slept in one of the huts. On 4 July my

son reported the case at the police base at Marapira but no action was taken by the

police. I was only taken to the hospital on 5 July.

I am now disabled and cannot work. Before the attack I could work in my fields and

feed my family as old as I am.

86-year-old woman assaulted for not attending ZANU-PF meetings

Lyn, an 86-year-old peasant farmer from Beatrice resettlement area, said:

In resettlement areas we were told that ZANU-PF leaders did not want MDC. We were

forced to feed people at the camp. We gave them maize, money, goats to celebrate

Mugabe's victory'. The war veterans' said that all my children were MDC supporters.

On 19 July, I was taken from my home by war veterans' and ZANU-PF supporters. I

was made to lie on the ground and they assaulted me with sticks. I was assaulted for a

very long time and sustained injuries on my back and buttocks. I also suffered a

broken arm. One of my neighbours had sold me out to the war veterans'. I am now

disabled. I can’t work in the field. I want to be compensated for the injuries. I want to

talk to my attackers and be told the truth about why I was beaten. I also want them to

be brought to justice.

16 Time for accountability

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

5 Sexual violence

Community leaders and victims of abuse in ZANU-PF camps in Masvingo told

Amnesty International of their suspicions that young women at the camps were forced

to give sexual favours to camp leaders and male ZANU-PF youths in the period

ahead of the June presidential run-off. A humanitarian worker told Amnesty

International that his organization had also received reports of male victims of sexual

violence who had been forced to perform sexual acts on other men. However, few of

the victims of sexual violence were willing to speak about their experiences, mainly

because of the stigma associated with rape and out of fear of reprisals, as some of the

perpetrators lived in the same communities.22 They had no confidence that police

would act against perpetrators since they had acted with the support of the state.

Victims of sexual violence in general fear the social impact of reporting their

experiences, both on themselves and on their families. They fear the stigma

associated with rape, especially in an environment where there are no guarantees that

the victims and their families will receive adequate support, including counselling,

access to HIV testing and antiretrovirals. Men who are victims of sexual violence often

find it even more challenging to report sexual abuse by other men, especially in a

country where the head of state has denounced homosexuality in the strongest


Community leaders and human rights defenders interviewed by Amnesty International

expressed the view that as the security situation improves and resultant pregnancies

come to light, more reports of rape will emerge.24

Wife of election observer sexually abused in Mt. Darwin

In Mt Darwin, the wife of an independent election observer with the Zimbabwe

Election Support Network during the 29 March elections was attacked at his home on

9 July and his wife was sexually abused by ZANU-PF youths. The husband told

Amnesty International in August that the youths stripped his wife naked and severely

beat her with thick sticks. They then took turns to insert their hands into her vagina.

At the time of the interview the wife was still in hospital while the husband and three

children were living in the burnt shell of their home. The first attack at the couple's

home was on 6 May 2008 when a mob of ZANU-PF supporters attacked them,

accusing the husband of being an MDC supporter. The couple managed to escape into

the nearby hills, but left behind three young children who were assaulted by the mob.

The mob then set the homestead on fire. They also set the goats' pen alight, burning

the goats alive. From 8 May to 26 June the family were internally displaced and

sought refuge in Harare. They faced extreme hardships as internally displaced people

with no support, and decided to go back to Mt. Darwin, where they were attacked for

the second time. The second attack was reported to the police, who arrested three of

the 13 identified attackers. The three were taken to court on 14 August 2008.

Time for accountability 17

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

6 Driven deeper into poverty

Human rights violations against suspected opponents of ZANU-PF have often had

socio-economic dimensions. For example, in 2005, more than 700,000 people lost

their homes or livelihoods when the government carried out a programme of mass

forced eviction. Members of the security forces played a significant role in the

planning and execution of this campaign, known as Operation Murambatsvina. In

particular, it has been alleged that members of the Joint Operations Command played

a key role in planning and coordinating the mass forced evictions.

Despite a critical report by the UN,25 most of the victims were left to find their own

solutions. Operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle (restore order) – the government's

supposed effort to give the victims of forced evictions some recourse – was exposed by

Amnesty International as a public relations exercise rather than a genuine attempt to

provide reparations. 26 The government built far fewer houses than it destroyed and the

new houses were not allocated to victims of mass forced evections, but rather to

soldiers, civil servants and people with political connections who were not necessarily

affected by the evictions.

Most of the people displaced by the forced evictions continue to live in destitution.

They have not been compensated for their losses and the Zimbabwean authorities

have not been held to account. No investigations have been carried out and there have

been no prosecutions for acts of violence by members of the security forces and others

in the context of these forced evictions.

Use of food as a political tool

Over the years, the government has used food as a tool to demand loyalty in rural

areas. It has repeatedly employed traditional leaders and local ZANU-PF activists to

deny suspected opponents of the party access to cheap or relief maize, the staple food.

It has permitted discriminatory distribution of maize in rural areas as part of its

strategy to retain ZANU-PF's rural support base.

Since 2000, Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of maize sold

through the state-owned Grain Marketing Board being used as a tool to silence

perceived opponents.27 Through its tight control over traditional leaders, who in turn

have control over development processes in rural communities, the government

managed to influence humanitarian operations to ensure that opponents of ZANU-PF

were excluded, even in donor-funded humanitarian programmes.

Forced to feed government supporters

Amnesty International is also concerned about ZANU-PF's practice of collecting

money from communities to fund its local activities. Rural people are often made to

make substantial financial contributions towards ZANU-PF activities, taking away

18 Time for accountability

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

much needed cash from impoverished communities. For example, most victims of the

recent human rights violations from rural areas interviewed by Amnesty International

in August 2008 reported being forced to make contributions to feed war veterans

and ZANU-PF youths at ZANU-PF camps. Those who resisted were often threatened

with eviction from their land or other forms of violence by war veterans, local party

activists and traditional leaders.

Lost livelihoods

Government policies since 2000, particularly the violent land reform programme and

Operation Murambatsvina, significantly reduced the capacity of ordinary Zimbabweans

to access food, health and education.

Thousands of farm labourers lost their jobs and were not allocated plots under the

land reform programme and have no means to pay for their children's education or

their health care. Many remain internally displaced (often referred to as Mobile and

Vulnerable Population by humanitarian organizations) and have been dependent on

humanitarian assistance since 2000.

Operation Murambatsvina destroyed many thriving small businesses that had grown in

response to the declining formal sector and had been a source of income for many low

income households. The informal sector had become the only source of livelihood for

Zimbabwe's large population of unemployed people; Zimbabwe's unemployment stood

at an all-time high of 80 per cent in August 2008, while official inflation jumped from

11 million per cent in June 2008 to 231 million per cent in July.

Time for accountability 19

Amnesty International AI Index: AFR 46/028/2008

7 The Zimbabwe Republic Police

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is the main institution responsible for serious

human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Throughout 2007 Amnesty International investigated allegations of human rights

violations by the ZRP in order to establish patterns of violations and to identify the

units responsible. Interviews with a wide range of victims exposed two specific police

units in the ZRP as primarily responsible for the suppression of the rights to peaceful

assembly and association, as well as torture and other ill-treatment of human rights

defenders, political activists and other government critics. Police officers who have

committed human rights violations have not been held to account and the victims

have received no redress.

In 2007 Amnesty International documented several cases where police arbitrary

arrested, unlawful detained and tortured human rights defenders and political

activists. Police have used excessive force to break up peaceful protests, often

inflicting serious injuries on victims. Detained human rights defenders and political

activists have frequently and repeatedly been denied access to lawyers, family, food

and medical attention.

The police have applied the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) selectively to

curtail the rights to peaceful assembly and association of any organization or

individual suspected of being an opponent of ZANU-PF.28 The law has been used not

for the legitimate prosecution of criminal offences, but to persecute human rights

defenders and political activists and to discourage them from exercising their rights to

freedom of association and expression.29

Law and Order section

The Law and Order section of the Criminal Investigations Department is responsible

for the majority of human rights violations committed by police officers against human

rights defenders and political activists. Alleged violations by the unit include arbitrary

arrest, unlawful detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and denial of detainees'

access to lawyers, food and medical care while in police custody. Law and Order

section officers have harassed and intimidated detainees' lawyers, and they have also

refused to accept or comply with court orders to release detainees or bring suspects

before the courts.

Many of the people arrested by police on suspicion of offences under the POSA or

other political matters are detained and interrogated by the Law and Order section.

This is a function that the section inherited from its predecessor, the Rhodesian

Special Branch, which was notorious for torturing and ill-treating political detainees

during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. There are distinct similarities between the

brutal way in which the Special Branch operated in Rhodesia, and the manner in

20 Time for accountability

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which the Law and Order officers have tortured and ill-treated human rights defenders

and political activists and denied them their rights while in police custody.

In executing its duties, the Law and Order section appears to have operated in a

partisan manner. Detainees seen as opponents of the government have frequently

been subjected to physical and psychological torture and have also often been

detained for prolonged periods. This treatment has apparently been a form of

punishment as well as a means of extracting confessions and obtaining information

about their organizations and activities. Officers from the section have threatened and

even assaulted detainees' lawyers and have ignored or openly defied court orders.

Amnesty International has recorded scores of cases of human rights violations by the

Law and Order section against members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the MDC, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and

student activists. None of the officers alleged to have been involved in these violations

has been brought to justice. The police authorities and government have ignored calls

by Zimbabwean civil society and regional and international human rights bodies to

investigate allegations of human rights violations involving officers from the section.

Torture and ill-treatment of MDC activists

In March and April 2007, 32 MDC activists were arrested and detained in connection

with alleged petrol bombings of buildings. The MDC activists were detained for

periods of between two and four months at Harare Central Remand Prison. Several

detainees reported that they had been tortured or ill-treated by officers from the Law

and Order section.

MDC-Tsvangirai Member of Parliament for Glen View, Paul Madzore, was arrested by

police at his home on 28 March 2007. Paul Madzore, his wife, children and others

were arrested at his home and taken to Harare Central police station. At about 11am

Paul Madzore was called into a room at the police station where he saw at least eight

men in plain clothes, whom he suspected to be from the Law and Order section. Three

of the men appeared to be drunk. One of the men started questioning Paul Madzore

demanding that he tell them who was burning police stations and who was leading the

terrorists. When Paul Madzore attempted to respond, one of the interrogators spat in

his face. He was made to lie on his back with his legs up on a table. The men started

beating him in turns under his feet, with instruments including a metal rod about a

metre long and a rubber baton stick. One of the interrogators asked Paul Madzore if

he wanted something to drink. The interrogator then brought an empty glass bottle

and started hitting him with it around the knees. Paul Madzore bled heavily as a result

of the beating.

Paul Madzore told Amnesty International delegates: One man was stepping on my

head [and] forcing my head on the floor with booted feet. All I could hear were sounds.

I just could feel that they were beating me, and the sound of my body. I tried to block

Time for accountability

Zimbabwe HRColloquium Nov 2008

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