BY SILAS NKALA
HUMAN rights watchdog, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) says Zimbabwe is on the brink of conflict brought on by escalating economic problems that came after the ban of the multi-currency system.
In its latest report released yesterday, ZPP said the month of July had not brought any joy to Zimbabweans as living conditions further deteriorated.
“The month of July had sadly not brought much to celebrate for Zimbabweans as the country is cascading into the precipice of conflict amid a continued deterioration in living conditions,” the ZPP report read.
“The economy is officially experiencing hyperinflation as the Zimbabwean dollar has shed 41,57% during this month (July) alone, rolling power cuts of over 17 hours, evermore increasing intimidation by mainly ruling party officials against a frustrated citizenry, as well as blatant deprivation of food and other aid to people deemed to be opposition supporters.”
The report further said: “The situation obtaining in the country shows deteriorating living conditions. Most concerning is the harassment and intimidation by mainly ruling party representatives of the public when they express their frustrations about poor living conditions. One such incident happened in Beitbridge, Dulibadzimu township when Finot Ndou threatened to kill Marshall Mbedzi for criticising President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.”
ZPP noted the increased involvement of war veterans in violations such as intimidation, assault and coercion of people to contribute funds towards Heroes Day celebrations to be held next week.
“Sentiments expressed by Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans Victor Matemadanda at a meeting in Gweru on July 27 that government will unleash the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to crush any ‘violent’ protest have further highlighted the increasingly prominent role that war veterans are playing in sowing fear and despondency,” ZPP said.
“Such incidents are indicative of continued increases in human rights violations, most prominently cases of intimidation and harassment. These violations are on a steady increase from 57,9% in April, 57,3% and 59,3% in May and June respectively and this month (July) we noted an increase to 62,6% recorded cases. This indicates a continuing toxic environment and notably these violations are around food and other aid distribution.”
ZPP reported that Mashonaland Central was the hotbed of violations contributing 20,9% cases, followed by Mashonaland East at 19,4%, while Manicaland and Mashonaland West sat on 14,7% each.
“Previously, Matabeleland North, South and Bulawayo provinces have recorded low cases of human rights violations with an average of 2,9% in the months of April and June. However, in July the figure has increased to an average of 7,1%, indicating how widespread human rights violations are becoming,” ZPP reported.
“Deterioration of economic conditions has continued unabated in the month of July. According to ZimStats the inflation rate between May and June rose from 97,85% to 175,6%. The Zimbabwean dollar has reportedly shed 41,57% value in the month of July alone. The noose is further tightened on struggling Zimbabweans through shortages of fuel, water, electricity among other basics.”
ZPP said although economic challenges are affecting all Zimbabweans, there seems to be a perception by Zanu PF members that complaining about poor living conditions is tantamount to insulting the ruling party.
The human rights watchdog indicated that in Mazowe Central at Kanyemba village on July 13, two Zanu PF supporters and an MDC member clashed after an argument on the return of the Zimbabwe dollar.
“The Zanu PF supporters claimed that prices of basic commodities will be affordable in time, however, the MDC member chastised them stating that their party was failing to revive the economy. A verbal altercation was reported resulting in a violent fistfight which was stopped by other villagers,” ZPP said.
“In Insiza North constituency, at Filabusi Business Centre, a delegation of eight Zanu PF youths led by a man popularly known as ‘Moyoza’ were moving about shops checking prices. The youths were intimidating and threatening shop owners to reduce prices and noting those still charging in foreign currency.
“Shop owners were threatened to heed the presidential call to reduce prices or risk losing their licences.”