BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/SIMBARASHE SITHOLE
THE ruling Zanu PF party has emerged as the leading perpetrator of human rights violations following intra-party violence during its internal elections that left some of its members hospitalised, a latest report released by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) yesterday has shown.
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.
In the report, 195 human rights violations which include assault, displacement, sexual harassment and unlawful detention were recorded.
Ordinary citizens were the majority of the victims.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) came second in human rights violations, with 31% of the incidents attributed to them.
ZPP said for the past two years, according to the trends observed during its findings, ZRP took the lead in violating human rights, but for the first time in September, the ruling party was at the forefront.
This is attributed to the clashes that erupted in various provinces when party members sought to consolidate their positions during the restructuring programme ahead of an elective congress slated for 2022.
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ZPP recorded 10 intra-Zanu PF party violence cases in September.
“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 the ZRP’s 31%,” ZPP said.
“Still, the ZRP’s contribution to human rights violations remains a cause for concern considering that as the law enforcement agents, they are supposed to be the torch bearers of a human rights centred approach to policing and to public safety.
“With the ruling party and the police leading as perpetrators of rights violations, the levels of public safety and confidence are undermined.”
ZPP noted that Zanu PF party officials continued to abuse State resources for their party campaigns as some of the members were using police officers to fight in their corner during the intra-party squabbles.
In Buhera North, ZPP said the incumbent Member of Parliament, William Mutomba, had to call police from Dorowa to disrupt an agricultural show that his rival, Philip Guyo, had sponsored.
“This month, we witnessed an increase in political activity both by the opposition and ruling Zanu PF,” ZPP said.
“In most cases, Zanu PF got its way and the main opposition MDC Alliance, whose operating space has been grossly constricted, also managed to gather its supporters in some rural and urban areas and in some instances, the party had to conduct activities at night.
“It was a bloody weekend of September 24-26, 2021 in the Zanu PF party as party supporters and those aspiring for positions engaged in bloody fights in Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces.”
Zanu PF acting spokesperson Michael Bimha, however, told NewsDay yesterday that the violence and jostling for positions were evidence of the party’s popularity.
He said although there were reports of some clashes within the party, its members were victims of abuse from other parties, but the cases were not documented.
“Government is much concerned about the abuse of human rights and has set up the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission which has powers to monitor human rights situations even within the ruling party Zanu PF,” Bimha said.
“We haven’t yet received any complaint from the commission that we are perpetrating rights abuses. On the issue of using State resources, the ruling party is a separate entity from government, hence it has no control on what happens in State institutions. If police appear at Zanu PF events, the responsible authorities would have seen it fit to send the personnel there.”
ZPP said there was increased political activity across the country ahead of the 2023 elections, resulting in violence and urged restraint and tolerance among political members.
Meanwhile, police from Bindura yesterday pounced on a Zanu PF restructuring meeting and battered party members, allegedly in retaliation for an assault on one of their colleagues by a ruling party member on Sunday.
The police, who were clad in riot gear, used tear smoke before assaulting the ruling party officials who were led by Shamva chairperson, Phamhidzayi Chirimuuta.
Chirimuuta told NewsDay that the officers beat the members heavily and arrested some youths who were still in police custody.
Mashonaland Central acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Naison Dhliwayo was not picking calls.
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