The report titled, False dawn: the Zimbabwe power-sharing governments failure to deliver human rights improvements, urges regional leaders to pressure Harare to act to end political violence and rights abuses: More than six months after the formation of a transitional, power-sharing government in Zimbabwe between the Zimbabwe African National UnionPatriotic Front (Zanu PF) and two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), there has been little progress in instituting any promised human rights reforms and in demonstrating respect for the rule of law.
(Pictured: Zanu (PF) activists continue to intimidate and harass MDC supporters)
Zanu (PF), the former ruling party, wields significantly more power than the MDC, and Zanu (PF) supporters continue to commit abuses against their perceived political opponents with impunity.
There is mounting evidence that the new government is failing or unwilling to end serious human rights violations, restore the rule of law, institute fundamental rights reforms, and chart a new political direction for the country.
Despite commitments made by all parties, the new power-sharing government has not taken any significant steps to ensure justice for victims of abuses or hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account. Police, prosecuting authorities, and court officials aligned with ZANU-PF continue to conduct politically motivated prosecutions of MDC legislators and activists.
This inaction cannot be blamed on the countrys financial crisis, itself caused by Zanu (PF)s years of misrule before 2009. Instead, it is due to an absence of political will. Zanu (PF) retains control of all senior ministriesincluding the Ministries of Defence, Justice, State Security, and Foreign Affairs; and it co-chairs Home Affairs.
The party therefore wields significantly more power than the MDC in the government, and is unwilling to institute human rights and governance reforms. Although the MDC has formal control of some ministries, President Mugabe unilaterally appointed permanent secretaries to all ministries, ensuring that Zanu (PF) maintains control of them.
Lacking real political power to effect reforms, the MDC is unable to push for human rights reforms and appears to be giving ground to Zanu (PF) in order to ensure the survival of the power-sharing government.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed in September 2008, calls on its signatory parties to build a society free of violence, fear, intimidation, hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice, fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality.
Human Rights Watch endorses this insightful conclusion and calls on the power-sharing government, as well as Zimbabwes neighbors and allies, to ensure that the country embraces progressive and sustainable change. If not, Zimbabwe risks sliding back into violence and chaos.
This report recommends a range of fundamental reforms that the power-sharing government should undertake to improve the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. Without these institutional and legislative reforms, as well as the establishment of genuine respect for the basic rights of all Zimbabweans, there can be no long-term, sustainable peace and stability in Zimbabwe.
These changes will also finally allow Zimbabweans to elect leaders of their choice. And once these reforms are in place, Zimbabwe will be better placed to attract international development assistance and private sector investment.
Continuing rights violations
Despite signing a power-sharing agreement with the MDC, Zanu (PF) members and supporters continue to intimidate, harass, and arbitrarily arrest MDC supporters and others perceived to be critical of Zanu (PF). Zanu (PF) has also used its partisan control of the judicial system to jail human rights defenders and harass members of the media, all in direct contravention of the power-sharing agreement.
Zanu (PF) and its allies, namely so-called war veterans and youth militia, continue to commit acts of political violence against MDC activists in Zimbabwe.5 For instance, they continue to operate sites throughout Zimbabwe that are used for torture, beatings, and harassment of MDC supporters. Additionally, Zanu (PF) youth militia have been using schools across the country as centers for abuse, under the guise of being local Ministry of Youth ward coordinators.
The Zimbabwe Defense Forces remain under the control of generals who support Zanu (PF), and in all the above cases, police either refused or failed to investigate these attacks despite credible allegations of criminal actions.This kind of police and army misconduct is consistent with previous Human Rights Watch findings in recent years.
Further, Zanu (PF) officials in the new government of Zimbabwe have refused to drop politically motivated criminal charges (for banditry and trying to recruit people for training in banditry) against 15 human rights and MDC activists whom Zanu (PF) loyalists in the government arbitrarily arrested from October through December 2008after Zanu (PF) and MDC factions signed the GPA on September 15, 2008.
Politically motivated prosecutions
Since the formation of the power-sharing government, a pattern has developed in which MDC legislators and activists are targeted for arrest by the police and the Office of the Attorney General on apparently baseless charges. This pattern points to a drive by Zanu (PF) to overturn MDCs slender majority in Parliament.
At the time of writing, at least 16 MDC legislators have been arrested by police on charges ranging from public violence to kidnapping and rape; seven of whom have already been tried and convicted in unfair trials in which the judges are known Zanu (PF) loyalists.
Of the seven already convicted, four have since been suspended from Parliament under laws that provide that members of parliament (MPs) sentenced to six or more months of imprisonment shall immediately cease to exercise their parliamentary functions.
Other MDC legislators also face charges that carry potential prison sentences in excess of six months and they too are at risk of losing their seats in Parliament. Finance Minister Tendai Biti faces a treason charge that potentially carries a death sentence. Deputy Youth Minister and MP for Nkulumane Thamsanqa Mahlangu faces a charge of stealing a mobile phone and is on bail awaiting trial.
Senator Roy Bennett is charged with illegal possession of arms of war and is on bail awaiting trial. Blessing Chebundo, Kwekwe Central MP, faces a charge of rape and is on bail awaiting trial. Trevor Saruwaka, Mutasa South MP, faces a public violence
charge and is on bail awaiting judgment.
Five MPs face charges of abusing subsidized farming inputs. They are currently on bail awaiting judgment and are: Hamandishe Maramwidze, MP for Gutu North; Heya Shoko, MP for Bikita West; Edmore Marima, MP for Bikita East; Tachiona Mharadza, MP for Masvingo West; and Evelyn Masaiti, MP for Dzivarasekwa, Harare.23
These prosecutions are not only politically motivated; they are also often presided over by politicized and partisan officials loyal to Zanu (PF), making a fair and impartial hearing near
Not a single Zanu (PF) legislator has been arrested or prosecuted for criminal offenses since the GPA was signed, although a number are directly implicated in last years political violence and other serious abuses, which resulted in the killing of over 163 MDC supporters between March and June 2008.
Harassment of the Media
As mentioned above, the police in Zimbabwe continue to harass members of the media and to improperly limit the right to free expression.
In an unusual case marking the first time journalists working for state-run media have been charged under repressive media laws, on April 7, 2009, the police arrested Brezhnev Malaba, the editor of the state-run and pro-Zanu (PF) provincial daily newspaper, the Chronicle, and one of its reporters, Nduduzo Tshuma, on charges of defaming the police in contravention of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (CLA).
The two journalists were later released but charges against them remain on the books. The arrest of the two journalists appears to have been driven by personal reasons on the part of senior police officers named in a published article alleging corruption at the Grain Marketing Board, rather than a case of
harassment on political grounds.
On May 11, 2009, police arrested Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure, editors of a privately run weekly paper, the Zimbabwe Independent, on charges of publishing falsehoods with the intention of undermining public confidence in law enforcement agents, in contravention of the CLA.
There was no basis for prosecuting Kahiya and Chimakure because they merely published information from indictment papers presented in court by the Office of the Attorney General, which are a matter of public record.
The trial of the two journalists is ongoing, but they have since appealed to Zimbabwes Supreme Court on the grounds that the sections of the CLA under which they were charged are unconstitutional.
On June 7, 2009, police barred four freelance journalists from covering a regional trade summit taking place in Victoria Falls, despite their having produced a valid High Court order granting them permission to cover the event.
Persecution of lawyers and judicial officers
Human Rights Watch has also found evidence that Zanu (PF) loyalists in the judicial system have used prosecution to persecute, intimidate, and harass lawyers and judicial officers.
On February 10, 2009, a day before Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister, police arrested two project lawyers with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Roselyn Hanzi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, for allegedly taking part in a public demonstration organized by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).
The two lawyers, who told Human Rights Watch that they did not take part in the demonstration, were charged with causing a breach of peace, an offense under the CLA. The lawyers were released on bail on February 12, 2009.
On May 14, 2009, police from the law and order section of the police Criminal Investigations Department arrested a prominent human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, and charged him with obstruction of the course of justice, in contravention of the CLA.
On May 22, 2009, police arrested Tapera Sengweni, a lawyer representing Blessing
Chebundo, an MDC MP from Kwekwe Central, who is facing rape charges, and Kwekwes MDC mayor, Shadreck Tobaiwa, on politically motivated charges of obstructing the course of justice, in contravention of the CLA. Both of their trials are pending.
On March 6, 2009, police arrested Magistrate Livingstone Chipadze in the city of Mutare and charged him with criminal abuse of office under the CLA. They alleged that he improperly ordered the release on bail of MDC Senator and Deputy Agriculture Minister-Designate Roy Bennett. Chipadze was sent to trial, but was eventually acquitted on August 4, 2009.
While police have been quick to make these kinds of arrests based on politically motivated charges, no action has been taken against those who attack MDC members and supporters.
Targeting of Commercial Farmers
Human Rights Watch has documented scores of illegal attacks on commercial farms since the power-sharing government took office. The vast majority of farm invasions were led by people with close links to Zanu (PF) or by those holding senior positions within the party or government. They have used violence and threats of violence to forcibly evict sitting owners from their properties.
The invasions typically disregarded due process of law, which stipulates that the only lawful method of removing a sitting occupier from his land is by a valid eviction order from the courts. In addition, any such order must be enforced by someone with the properly designated legal authority, usually a deputy sheriff or a messenger of court.
Ongoing abuses at Marange
Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights violations perpetrated by
Zimbabwes security forces in the Marange diamond fields since November 2006.47
Zimbabwes armed forces, under the firm control of Zanu (PF), seized power in the diamond fields in late October 2008, a month after the signing of the power-sharing agreement, after killing more than 200 people.
The government of Zimbabwe has failed to remove its armed forces from the diamond fields and to end related human rights violations there despite calls by the global diamond industry body, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), for the government to take corrective action by July 20, 2009, or face suspension from the KPCS.
To the government of Zimbabwe
Undertake an independently managed program of police and judicial reform with
clear timelines and ensure that Zimbabwean civil society enjoys significant and
meaningful participation in the process.
Place control of the police under new, non-partisan and professional leadership,
accountable to an independent supervisory board. Ensure that police work is
consistent with the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials
and other recognized international principles.
Ensure full accountability, including prosecutions, for the perpetrators of serious
human rights violations, regardless of position or rank, and press for appropriate
remedies for victims of abuses.
Urgently repeal or amend all national legislation that is incompatible with
international and regional human rights law and standards, including the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Statutes to be repealed or amended should include:
o The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act(CLA);
o The Public Order and Security Act (POSA);
o The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA);
o The Broadcasting Services Act (BSA); and
o The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA), particularly section 121,
concerning the revocation of court-ordered bail.
Ensure that new legislation is compatible with Zimbabwes international obligations
to respect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
Ensure that Zanu (PF) immediately demobilizes and disarms its youth militia and war veterans groups who are responsible for abuses, and prosecute those members who have perpetrated serious human rights abuses.
Take all necessary measures to end impunity. Set up an independent commission of
inquiry, with credible civil society panel members, to investigate serious past human
rights violations, including those committed during the 2008 election period and in
the Marange diamond fields.
To the member states of SADC
As guarantor of the September 15, 2008 Global Political Agreement, ensure that the
Zimbabwean government institutes promised human rights reforms.
Promote compliance to the Global Political Agreement and monitor the progress of
all parties in carrying out their commitments made under the agreement.
Condition the lifting of sanctions against individuals in Zimbabwe with specific
actions by Zanu (PF) and the achievement of clear human rights benchmarks.
Assist Zimbabwe in holding free and fair elections that meet international standards
and publicly support full, unfettered international monitoring of future elections well
in advance of polling day.
Urge Zimbabwe to protect the credibility of the regions diamond industry by making essential improvements to its management of the Marange diamond fields, and support calls for Zimbabwes suspension if it fails to do so.
To the European Union and the United States
Support all genuine efforts to resolve the political and humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe by continuing to give priority to the needs of the countrys most
vulnerable communities; and re-engage on a broader agenda once the transitional,
power-sharing government demonstrates a pattern of concrete and irreversible
improvements in policy and actions.
Continue to withhold development aid to Zimbabwe in the absence of clear progress
in implementing key human rights reforms.
Maintain targeted travel sanctions and asset freezes against Zanu (PF) and its
leadership until Zanu (PF) meets specific human rights and good governance
benchmarks and until it becomes clear that such changes are irreversible.