There was nothing particularly alarming about the Zimbabwe Peace Project report which showed that the ruling Zanu PF party and the police were the leading agents of violence in the month of September.
Former leader, the late Robert Mugabe, in 1988 boasted that his party had “degrees in violence”. Since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999, Zanu PF has certainly used them to good effect, with violent crackdowns on opposition activists a regular dose of public life since the turn of the new millennium.
The party has used violence to ride roughshod over political opponents civic society or anybody who threatens its power or rule. This maybe the new dispensation of Mugabe’s long-time ally, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but the party is certainly living up to that boast, with fights, factional clashes and bloodshed the order of the day since the ruling Zanu PF party started internal elections.
The elections of course, determine who will seat at the top table from district level all the way to the provinces. There are rich pickings for those victorious. So, the stakes are high, and the higher the stakes, the more the violence, it seems.
Violence has always been a strategy of the ruling party, but it has, for most part been directed at the opposition.
Now we have a new situation in which its members, an eclectic mix of new and old members with little in common beyond holding power, are certainly willing to do anything to win, including killing.
According to the ZPP report titled: It’s Politricks All Over, the ruling party accounted for 37% of the human rights violations that occurred in the month of September and claimed the life of one person.
For the month of September, the report cited 195 human rights violations which include assault, displacement, sexual harassment and unlawful detention. And the ruling party was responsible for more than a third of those.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has topped the list of human rights violations in the past two years, but this September, they handed over the mantle to Zanu PF, which contributed over 37% of violations compared to ZRP’s 31%,” ZPP said in the report.
Zanu PF party officials are not shy to abuse State resources to entrench their positions or scare off political opponents. In Buhera North, incumbent Member of Parliament, William Mutomba, simply called in the police to disrupt an agricultural show that his rival, Philip Guyo, had sponsored.
In under two years, Zimbabwe will hold the presidential and parliamentary elections, and the stakes will be higher. Mnangagwa needs to get his party in order to avoid bloodshed before then. The violence cannot be a sign of popularity as its acting spokesperson, Mike Bimha implies, but a sign of more dangers to come.