CASES of human rights violations took a 30% dip in February compared to the previous month, a Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) report said.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZPP noted the decline is deceiving amid an increase in intra-party violence over leadership disputes, with the human rights watchdog expressing fear this pointed to a bloody election.
“A decrease of about 30% in the total number of violations recorded in February has been noted from 245 violations to 176 violations. The decrease is deceiving, as it points towards an environment of calm, as the country approaches elections, but beyond the numbers there is much more,” the ZPP February report read.
“In previous months, the harassment and intimidation connected to demanding of serial numbers during the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise resulted in an increase in violations, particularly in rural communities.
“However, the public condemnations of the practice by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), as well as two publicised arrests have seen the violations decreasing sharply.”
According to ZPP, Manicaland had the highest recorded violations with 34, followed by Mashonaland Central with 29 and Midlands with 28. The report said intimidation and or harassment cases have been high in Midlands, Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central.
“An increase in the number of assault cases is very worrying and is pointing towards a potentially bloody 2018 election putting the free, fair and credible elections mantra at risk. All along, the minimum violations were intimidations and harassment, but this month there are recorded cases of physical assault and sadly fatalities. The increase in physical confrontations fuelled by internal party contradictions is not a good indicator for the coming elections and moreso, as political parties are expected to have primary elections in the next few months,” ZPP said.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu spokesperson, Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “While it will be far-fetched to expect the elections not to be characterised by violence, any government action such as arrests of the perpetrators can, in some way, have an impact to reduce this culture of electoral violence in much the same way the arrest of those activists demanding BVR slips.”
MDC-T has been worst affected by the intra-party violence over a leadership contest between acting president, Nelson Chamisa and deputy president, Thokozani Khupe.
The MDC-T leadership has condemned the violence, while President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also promised a non-violent, free, fair and credible election. Past elections have been marred by voter intimidation, violence, abductions and allegations of vote fraud.