Matabeleland provinces have remained relatively peaceful despite increasing political violence in other areas and the re-emergence of Zapu, the Zimbabwe Peace Project Trust has said.
The organisation, a coalition of churches and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), said political violence steadily increased in the period towards the Zanu PF annual conference in Mutare in December, but Matabeleland had remained “relatively” peaceful.
The Matabeleland region is made up of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North.
In its report, the NGO said Bulawayo Province remained one of the country’s most safe regions with only four cases of politically-motivated human rights violations having been recorded in November.
Manicaland was the worst affected province, the organisation said. In the four cases recorded in November, the perpetrators were identified to be from Zanu PF and Zapu.
“From Luveve constituency war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda was reported to have threatened fellow war veterans who have openly declared their support for Zapu.
He allegedly described the war veterans as sell-outs during the burial of a Zanu PF member at Nkulumane Heroes’ Acre.
“The other forms of violations recorded included harassment, intimidation and being forced to denounce one’s party,” the report said.
The report said politically-motivated human rights violations recorded in Matabeleland North were mainly centred on the distribution of farming inputs.
“Victims were ordered to produce political party cards in order to access maize seed and fertilizers.”
It said villagers in the province had been harassed and intimidated for allegedly trying to defect from Zanu PF and join the re-launched Zapu.
The report also said there were nine politically-motivated human rights violations that were recorded in Matabeleland North.
Matabeleland South was quiet with only two cases of political violence.
“The restructuring of the Zanu PF provincial leadership provided a lot of anxiety among the war veterans and the politicians in the region.
“It was, however, difficult to gauge the political environment but the heavy presence of the Zapu party led by Dumiso Dabengwa seemed to be the next source of tension in the province as the other two main political parties in the region would want to fight and retain their seats in Parliament,” the report said.
In an interview with NewsDay, Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said although Matabeleland was viewed as peaceful, there were undercurrents forming.
“Zanu PF is also threatening some people in some areas in Matabeleland.
In Nyamandlovu, they reportedly held a meeting last week and identified people they accused of being Zapu.
“These people were told that they would be removed from their farms. A lot of people are being threatened.”
The Zapu spokesperson denied that his party was also intimidating members of the two MDCs.
“Bulawayo provincial war veterans’ leader Themba Ncube said: “We have never fought with Zapu people. I think these organisations can explain better about this. We tolerate other people but cannot tolerate provocation. We have never provoked anyone.”