Between the 1st and the 17th of February 2017, Heal Zimbabwe recorded a total of 31 violations. All the violations fell in three categories, threats of violence (intimidation), forced contributions/attendance to political gatherings and partisan distribution of food aid. The highest violations involved intimidation characterised by threats of violence, withdrawal from food aid beneficiation recording 76% of the total violations followed by 18% of forced financial contributions towards the 21st Birthday celebrations of the Head of State and Government, President Mugabe. The district recording highest violations was Muzarabani and Mwenezi with 6 and 5 violation cases, respectively.
Among the total violations recorded, it is notable that intimidation is emerging from political parties, ZANU PF in particular, that is reorganizing its party structures including selling cards. The party is already preparing campaigns for the 2018 elections yet intimidating people to buy membership cards by reminding them about the past electoral violence, threatening them with food aid withdrawal or job losses (for those mainly in government positions). Heal Zimbabwe is concerned that while it is constitutional for political parties to campaign and mobilize to boost their support base, doing so using threats of violence, withdrawal of food aid and job losses is unethically wrong and it amounts to undue political influence on the electorate.
2. Number of Cases Recorded
Although the observed violations are generally lamentable, Heal Zimbabwe takes note that there is a general peace in the country. We implore Zimbabwean political parties and the electorate to continue upholding peace and creating an enabling environment for peaceful electoral participation in the country, ahead of the 2018 elections.
In the marked reporting period, Heal Zimbabwe notes that threats of violence, withdrawal of food aid and job losses are prevailing mostly in the observed communities. A significant number of violations involved forced financial contributions ahead of the President’s birthday celebrations. Heal Zimbabwe encourages traditional leaders to desist from participating in political activities while political leaders must protect the rights of citizens and the electorate in general by desisting from using intimidation to gain membership.
Annexure: Specific Cases Recorded
1. Nyanga District
Nyanga North Ward 4: On 13 February 2017, ZANU PF ward chairperson Elliot Mupezeni threatened Moses Chibisa with violence for supporting the opposition MDC-T. Mupezeni confronted Chibisa arguing that he should not conduct meetings at his shop at Ruwangwe Growth Point. Mupezeni also proceeded to Chibisa’s mother’s residence and threatened the mother with unspecified action if his son continues to support the opposition.
Nyanga South ward 18: Unknown ZANU PF youths who were conducting door to door campaigns in ward 18 on the 3rd of February 2017 forced residents in the ward to join ZANU PF by issuing threats of violence. The youths who were in the company of a man only identified as Comrade Jombo announced that if ZANU PF loses the 2018 elections, there was going to be “bloodshed” in Ward 18.
Nyanga North ward 4: A ZANU PF elected Councillor, Moses Gutu, issued a directive to Ruwange Day Secondary school teachers on 6 February 2017 that all teachers at the school should pay a $1 towards President Mugabe’s birthday to be held in the Matopos. He instructed that any teacher who defies the order, risks losing his/her job. Gutu instructed the ward 5 Councillor Nyakapanga (ZANU PF) to issue a similar directive in schools in his ward. Several teachers at Ruwange Day Secondary school have since paid the money while the school has also contributed $10 towards the Presidents’ birthday.
Nyanga North ward 4: ZANU PF ward chairperson, Elliot Mupezeni and the party’s ward Youth chairperson, Gift Chinamonya forced households to contribute $1.00 each towards President Mugabe’s birthday. The instructions were issued in two separate meetings in Chibisa and Pfigu villages on 6th of February 2017.
Nyanga North ward 4: ZANU PF leaders Noah Gande (also acting village head) and ZANU PF cell Secretary Peter Bhuseti held a meeting in Gande village on 6 February 2017 where they threatened that anyone seen attending any opposition party meetings will be denied food aid. They further threatened that their names will be recorded and submitted to the ZANU PF provincial offices in Nyanga where a decision on their fate will be made. At the meeting, Bhuseti also recoded names and identity numbers of all people who attended the meeting.
Nyanga North ward 4: Councillor Nyakapanga, held a meeting in ward 14 where he threatened residents from Mukatsa, Mbiriyadi, Nyamagoromondo and Mashumba villages by misinforming them about the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) System. Nyakapanga lied to those in attendance that the BVR system is meant to help ZANU PF to monitor those who do not vote for his party as the party can access the voters’ finger prints and pictures. This information could scare people from exercising their free political choice for fear of victimisation.
2. Mudzi District
Mudzi North ward 17: On 13 February 2017, ZANU PF youths in Mudzi North (Ward 17) who were conducting door-to-door campaigns for Hon Milton Kachepa threatened villagers with violence if their candidate loses elections in 2018. The youths told people that they should retain Kachepa as the member of Parliament in the 2018 elections or ZANU PF will unleash violence in the area.
3. Guruve District
Guruve ward 6: Ward 6 residents in a village led by Village Head Chimanikire were instructed to pay $3.00 towards the President’s birthday in return for continuous food aid support. The compulsory payment instructions were made during a village meeting held on 9th February 2017. The Village Head also campaigned for ZANU PF at the meeting by stating that everyone must vote for the party because it was the only party concerned about people’s welfare because it was giving food aid and agriculture inputs.
4. Buhera District
Buhera West ward 5: On 11 February 2017, Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka held a meeting at Chani business centre where he made an intimidating speech against opposition members. Initially the meeting was announced as a food distribution meeting but villagers were informed upon arrival that there was no food that was going to be given save for the fact that the meeting was indeed a ZANU PF meeting. Mandipaka announced that people should all vote resoundingly for President Mugabe in the 2018 elections. He also announced that those who continue to participate in activities of opposition parties risked victimisation in 2018. Mandipaka also ordered the ward chairperson, Mugove Magunda, his vice, Peter Chakanetsa and the party’s youth leader Forward Sadzi that they should compile names of all who will attend opposition party meetings and meetings convened by non-governmental organisations.
Buhera West Ward 5: On the 14th of February 2017, Noel Katiza, a member of neighbourhood watch committee announced during a ZANU PF meeting at Chani business centre that people who fail to vote for ZANU PF in the 2018 elections will be assaulted. Katiza also announced that he had received a directive from Buhera West Legislator, Oliver Mandipaka to compile names of people who boycott ZANU PF meetings. He also warned that people who attend meetings called for by opposition parties will also be denied food aid.
5. Mazowe District
Mazowe Central ward 12: On 9 February 2017, Village Head Tasvika Donzvo called for a meeting at his homestead and told people that going forward, any food aid that comes into the area was going to be distributed to ZANU PF members only. He also announced that people should vote for ZANU PF in the 2018 elections if they wanted to receive any food aid. Such threats of food aid withdrawal on the basis of political affiliation from a traditional leader are a violation of the constitution.
6. Mwenezi District
Mwenezi East ward 4: On 8 February 2017, ZANU PF ward 4 Chairperson Tobias Mahowa threatened people with violence during a meeting held at Chimbudzi Business Centre in Mwenezi. Chihowa instructed those in attendance to surrender evidence of their voter registration slips at his house immediately after registering with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in preparation for the pending by-election in Mwenezi East constituency. He also pointed out that anyone defying his orders would face violence from ZANU PF.
Mwenezi East ward 2 On the 8th of February 2017, unidentified ZANU PF youths led by their ward vice chairperson, Ezra Mashindi moved around the ward threatening people that if they fail to purchase ZANU PF membership cards, they will be denied food aid. On 11 February 2017 several people purchased ZANU PF membership cards that cost $3 at Rata business centre where ZANU PF had a meeting. Several people who spoke to Heal Zimbabwe trained Human Rights Monitors (HRMs) resident in the ward, confessed that they had to purchase the membership cards because they wanted to continue receiving food aid.
Mwenezi East ward 5: In ward 5, ZANU PF ward chairperson, Pinias Shoko addressed a rally at Chingani Primary school on 8 February 2017. Shoko warned that if people fail to register to vote in the coming by election, ZANU PF was going to unleash violence on those who would not have voted. Shoko also announced that he had already deployed a team of ZANU PF youths in the ward to compile names of people and their identity numbers so that he can monitor when the voter registration process commences.
Mwenezi East ward 5: On the 5th of February 2017, Phineas Shoko Muunganiri the leader of the Zion Christian Church intimidated congregants during a church service. Muunganiri told the congregants that they should all purchase ZANU PF membership cards and vote for ZANU PF in the pending by election. He also announced that those who refuse to purchase the ZANU PF cards will not receive any food aid that comes into the ward. Muunganiri is a known ZANU PF supporter in the area.
Mwenezi East ward 5: On 13 February 2017, unknown ZANU PF activists who were wearing ZANU PF campaign regalia moved in the ward intimidating people. The youths told villagers that if ZANU PF loses the by election, ZANU PF was going to unleash a terror campaign similar to that witnessed during the 2008 elections.
7. Muzarabani District
Muzarabani North ward 19: Village head Chidaushe on 18 February held a meeting at Utete ward centre and announced that everyone in the village should join ZANU PF if they wanted to continue receiving food aid. He also announced that the villagers should also submit their identity card numbers to him so that he can have them registered to vote. He also warned people that anyone suspected to be an opposition party member, will be banished from the village.
Muzarabani South ward 22: Councillor Sarudzai Mutyavaviri held a meeting in Mapondera village on 10 February 2017. She warned that all opposition party members who continue to organise secret meetings in the area risked victimisation because they had shown “no signs of reforming”. She also announced that no opposition party member was going to receive any food aid that comes from the Ministry of Social welfare.
Muzarabani North ward 1: On the 20th of February 2017, Councillor Nongai Chitengu distributed food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare at Chadereka business centre. Chitengu announced that the food aid was only for those who had paid $4.50 that he had instructed people to pay. He also announced that from the money that people had paid, $1.00 was a contribution towards President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations while $3.50 was for transportation of the food aid.
8. Mbire District
Mbire ward 5: ZANU PF central committee member Douglas Karoro and Councillor Joseph Bhero deployed ZANU PF youths in the ward who moved around telling people that if they wanted to continue receiving food aid, they should all join ZANU PF and pay $2 for transportation of the food aid. The youths also announced that no opposition party members will receive food aid that comes from Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare.
9. Makoni District
Makoni West ward 15: On 10 February 2017, ZANU PF ward chairperson, Daniel Romeo Mutsvunguma held a meeting at Chiwetu training centre. At the meeting he announced that everyone in the ward should consider joining ZANU PF if they wanted to continue receiving food aid. Mutsvunguma also announced that he had given a directive to all Village heads in the ward to compile names of people who boycott ZANU PF meetings called for in the area. He also urged people that when voter registration commences, people should all register and submit registration slips to him as evidence that they would have registered.
10. Hurungwe District
Hurungwe West ward 25: ZANU PF Councillor Ronald Mushawasha called for a meeting at the ward centre. At the meeting, he announced that he was going to remove everyone believed to be opposition party supporters from the beneficiaries list of food aid that comes from Ministry of Social Welfare.
11. Gutu District
Gutu Ward 41: On Friday 10 February 2017, Village head Savaka distributed food aid that had come from the Ministry of Social Welfare at Mashingise Township. He also announced that there was no opposition party supporter who was going to receive any food aid. He announced that he had received this directive from the ZANU PF leadership in Mupandawana Growth point.
Gutu West ward 5: On 3 February 2017, at a School Development Committee (SDC) meeting at Chikwerenge, Chief Serima (Vengai Rushwaya) threatened former Councillor Maxwell Mazambani with abduction. This was after Mazambani had confronted him during the meeting rebuking him that his habit of demanding allowances from the School was an abuse of his power and authority. Chief Serima then told Mazambani that he had disrespected him and threatened that he was going to abduct him. Serima also reminded Mazambani that in 2015 he abducted and assaulted former Matizha Primary school headmaster, William Nhidza who had defied his orders.
12. Mutoko District
Mutoko South Ward 20: On 13 February 2017, ZANU PF ward chairperson Rongai Muchemwa forced people in ward 20 to pay 50 cents per household towards President Mugabe’s birthday. Muchemwa moved in the ward collecting 50cents from each household and threatened that anyone who fails to pay the money will not receive any food aid that comes into the ward.
13. Gokwe South District
Gokwe South ward 11: A ZANU PF elected Councillor, Oliver Chanda, convened a meeting at Nemangwe Business Centre on Friday 09 February 2017 where he threatened those in attendance with food aid withdrawal if they fail to buy ZANU PF membership cards and also registering their national identity cards. Councilor Chanda warned people that anyone who would refuse will have their name struck off the food beneficiaries list. The cards were selling at $3.00 each and several members failed to purchase the cards as they failed to raise the money.
14. Zaka District
Zaka ward 9: On the 8th of February 2017 at Chinorumba Business Centre, the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare officials distributed rice to orphans and the disabled. As this was going on, Councillor Sabina Rujongonya announced that everyone present should vote for ZANU PF if they still wanted to continue receiving food aid from Social Welfare.
Zaka Ward 13: Ward 13 Councillor Tapiwa Musimbiri announced to people who had gathered to receive rice from the Ministry of Social Welfare that if they vote for opposition parties in 2018, ZANU PF was going to unleash violence similar to the one experienced during 2008 elections. The incident happened on the 13th of February 2017 at Chinorumba Business Centre.Post published in: Featured