In its election update report for the period July to August, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said the bases were mainly in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces.
“Our observers have reported the resurrection of these bases in their constituencies. These serve as a barrier to peaceful co-existence and curtail the freedom of citizens as they are punished for their constitutional right to freedom of expression, that is to say freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference,” ZESN said in its report.
The election watchdog said, in most instances, the bases were disguised as political party mobilization centres or education centres depending on the area. Youth militia activities were also recorded in a number of provinces. ZESN said although their observers reported a decline in cases of violence, political intolerance among supporters of different parties remained a problem.
“Of the 210 constituencies, 10 percent of the observers reported the occurrence of violence. Political tolerance remains problematic with observers reporting high levels of intolerance as shown by 46 percent of observers who reported a lack of political tolerance”.
“ZESN applauds political players in 40 per cent of the constituencies who reported that people are able to express themselves freely. However, there is concern about 60 per cent of the constituencies where observers have reported a lack of freedom of expression,” said the watchdog.
Early this year, a Zanu (PF) councillor from Matabeleland said the setting up of torture bases was an instruction from the party’s top leadership. She said political traditional leaders such as chiefs and headman were used to identify suspected opposition supporters while war veterans and youths would administer and mete out punishment.Post published in: News