ZIMBABWE has been adjudged the most politically violent country in Southern Africa, a study by think-tank Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) revealed this week.
The RAU report looked at electoral violence in Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa from the years 1998 to 2018, and the outcome was that although the neighbouring countries shared the same history of the liberation struggle, Zimbabwe was the most violent, with most of the violence aimed at civilians by political militia, and 46% of violence occurred during elections.
A graph showing the total number of violent incidences recorded by the five countries during the periods 1997 to 2014 had Zimbabwe topping the list with 5 075 cases of violence, which constituted 37%, followed by South Africa with 4 540 cases (33%), Angola with 3 001 cases (21,8%), Namibia with 573 cases recorded (4,2%) and Mozambique with 561 cases (4,1%).
“Zimbabwe has an unenviable reputation for being the most politically violent country in Southern Africa, certainly since the civil wars ended in Angola and Mozambique, and the independence of Namibia and South Africa,” the RAU report said.
“The country was born out of a particularly violent struggle against white settler domination, entered a new internecine conflict in the 1980s, and, since 2000, has been the subject of violent elections, mass displacements, and continuous repression,” they said.
The RAU report said the electoral violence in Zimbabwe is of a wholly different character to those of the other four Southern African countries in that most of the incidences (71,9%) out of 4 216 recorded cases between 1998 to 2018 was directed at civilians.
Violence caused by riots was recorded as 1 047 incidences, constituting 17,9% of the political violence recorded during that period.
“The majority of perpetrators in the violence in Zimbabwe are non-state actors (51,2%), and supporters of Zanu-PF, as well as war veterans.
“State actors, the police (ZRP), the army (ZNA), and the intelligence service (CIO) do also account for a substantial number of the perpetrators (22.7%),” the report said.
They said while state actors perpetrated violence during the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland during the 1980 civil war, the cases of electoral violence being recorded now were clearly gross human rights violations perpetrated by the military forces of the State.
Politically motivated violent in Zimbabwe is said to be a result of a prolonged struggle for power by the ruling Zanu PF party and the main opposition MDC-T, with Zanu PF strongholds of Mashonaland provinces, Masvingo, Manicaland and Midlands recording the highest incidences of violence (52%) followed by Harare at 39%.
“The elections in 2000, 2002 and 2008 were all violent, and arguably 2008 was the most violent of the three.
“The worst violence is seen when the contest is for the Presidency,” the RAU report said.