BY SILAS NKALA
Human rights watch dog, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (HRForum), in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Peace Project, have released a damning report revealing that 55,6% of perpetrators of violence in last month’s protests were uniformed forces.
The report released on Friday came at a time the ruling Zanu PF government and President Emmerson Mnangagwa have repeatedly blamed the main opposition party, the MDC, for instigating the violent protests.
Mnangagwa at the weekend told France 24 that MDC politicians had even before the July 30, 2018 polls threatened that they would not accept any results that did not point to their victory.
The HRForum report shows that armed forces constituted the highest number of perpetrators of the 688 human rights violations committed during the three-day shutdown period.
“55,6% of the perpetrators of violence were uniformed forces; the remaining 44,4% represents the looters and protesters, who had gone on rampage. Other perpetrators documented included Zanu PF members 5,4%, municipal police 3,4%, Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers 2,2%, war veterans at 0,4% and MDC Alliance members 0,3%,” the report read.
“The victims recorded, present a different picture. 97,2% of the victims were of unknown affiliation, 1,8% were MDC Alliance members and 0,8% Zanu PF.”
The human rights group said the highest violations were recorded for harassment and intimidation with 318 cases, followed by 145 assaults, 88 cases of malicious damage to property and 56 theft/looting cases.
“We recorded 12 cases of extra-judicial killings during the month. Most of the killings were a result of gunshot wounds and took place on Monday 14 January, while others were a result of beatings or other forms of torture such as being thrown out of vehicles in motion,” the human rights group reported.
Members of the armed forces ruthlessly crushed the January demonstrations against fuel price hikes. Seventeen civilians were reportedly killed, thousands tortured and arbitrarily arrested, while several women were raped during the crackdown.