This report covers the period 7 to 13 March 2022. The report focuses on documented and verified incidents of politically motivated organised violence and torture (OVT) in the run-up to the 26 March 2022 by-elections. Information contained in this report has been obtained through on-site monitoring of rallies and cases documented and verified by Forum members.
The week was characterised by the continued rise in political activity, with a series of by-election campaign rallies held by ZANU- PF, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), and the MDC Alliance. Clampdown on opposition parties continued, with some CCC members reporting cases of assault by ZANU- PF members as well as illegal arrests.
Partisan policing of opposition political party rallies
A growing and disturbing trend has been observed in the run-up to the 26 March by-elections where police have been blocking CCC rallies while allowing ZANU-PF and the MDC Alliance to freely campaign. On Friday 11 March, police refused to sanction a CCC rally which was supposed to be held at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on 12 March. The police The CCC approached the High Court and despite Justice Lucy Mungwari’s ruling sanctioning the rally, the law enforcement agents sealed off the stadium, denying CCC supporters’ entry for the rally, in contempt of the court order. CCC leader Nelson Chamisa ended up dispersing his supporters during a very short address at an open space near Rudhaka Stadium. The police have also refused to sanction another CCC rally that was scheduled for Binga on 15 March. The police said President Emmerson Mnangagwa was due to visit Hwange on 17 March and therefore, they would not have enough manpower to handle the rally. A fortnight ago, ZANU-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa confirmed weaponisation of the police by the ruling party when he justified the police’s decision to block rallies by the CCC, whom he accused of trolling ZANU-PF.
Summary of Violations:
- On Tuesday 8 March 2022, Maxwell Dutuma, CCC candidate for ward 26, Highfields, Harare, and CCC youth member, Munya Makwanya were assaulted with fists and iron bars by ZANU-PF supporters at Gazaland, Highfields. Dutuma lost US$520 during the assault. He went to Machipisa Police Station intending to report an assault case against the ZANU-PF supporters soon after the attack. However, he was arrested upon arrival at the police station after his assailants, who were already at the station, had reported him for assault. Following intervention by the Forum, Dutuma was released at Mbare Magistrates Court on 10 March after the prosecution declined to prosecute him for lack of evidence.
- On Thursday 10 March 2022, ZANU-PF youths surrounded CCC supporter Gift Mapfumo’s home in Lukukwe Village, Kana in Gokwe at around 7 pm. The youths assaulted Mapfumo’s 22-year-old son demanding the whereabouts of his father. They had an argument with Mapfumo during the day. The ZANU-PF youths only left Mapfumo’s home after neighbours intervened. Before the neighbours intervened, the youths attempted to apprehend Mapfumo’s daughter who then managed to escape.
- On Thursday 10 March 2022, ZANU-PF supporter Ngoni Makanya threatened a CCC supporter Tichaona Matedza who resides in Ward 2, Mt Darwin with death for his continued loyalty to the opposition party. Makanya told Matedza that he would ensure that he won’t make it alive “this time”, unlike what he did during the political violence that rocked the country ahead of the 2008 presidential run-off.
- On 12 March, ZANU-PF supporters moved around residential areas in Beitbridge threatening residents with unspecified action if they attend a CCC rally at Dulibadzimu Stadium on 13 March.
Abuse of school buses
School buses from Mutambara High School, Makumbe High School, Mutare Girls High School, and Chitakatira High School were observed bussing ZANU-PF supporters on 13 March 2022 to a ZANU PF rally held at Dangamvura, Mutare.
Forced rally attendance
Residents in Mutare’s Dangamvura suburb reported being forced to attend a ZANU-PF rally held on 13 March in the same suburb. Informal traders were forced to close their stalls and join the ZANU- PF rally addressed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Journalists barred from covering rally
On 13 March, the MDC Alliance denied journalists entry into Zimbabwe Grounds, Highfields, to cover a rally addressed by its leader Douglas Mwonzora. The journalists were later allowed into the stadium after midday.
IMPACT OF COVID-19:
Gatherings continue to be held in violation of COVID-19 protocols with thousands of political party supporters being observed gathering in very close proximity and without masks.
The Forum continues to call for political tolerance and condemns the use of violence by all political parties and public members. The Forum also urges the police to respect the rule of law.