Govt should stop stoking polarisation

Opinion & Analysis
The highlight of the month was a video that went viral on social media of one Abton Mashayanyika, an apostolic church bishop, who told Zanu PF supporters at a rally in Mberengwa that Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa and his family must be killed.

LAST month, government revealed more and more of its unwillingness to unite the country, as the levels of intolerance and selective and partisan application of the law continued unabated.

The highlight of the month was a video that went viral on social media of one Abton Mashayanyika, an apostolic church bishop, who told Zanu PF supporters at a rally in Mberengwa that Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa and his family must be killed.

He said this as he explained the meaning of the “down with so and so” slogan.

Mashayanyika said whenever this slogan was used against anyone, it meant that that person had to die.

He then chanted “down with Chamisa” as someone in the crowd chipped in “and his children”.

Just when one expected the law to take its course by arresting Mashayanyika, nothing has happened.

It was only after renowned human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa wrote a letter demanding that the law enforcement agents investigate the bishop that the police responded by saying they had launched investigations into the matter.

To this day, Mashayanyika, who is a well known individual, is yet to be arrested despite the overwhelming evidence.

One just imagines what would have happened if such a slogan and its explanations was chanted by a CCC member.

This is happening as opposition leaders, activists workers rights defenders are being persecuted and detained simply because they speak out against government and the ruling Zanu PF party’s excesses.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure spent more than a month in remand prison on a charge of obstruction of justice.

It is the State case that he committed the crime when he tweetted about the situation of one of his colleagues who had been arrested.

This was after Masaraure had been granted bail on another case in which he is accused of murder.

Ironically, this is a case from 2016 when a colleague of his fell to his death after which an inquest into the death pronounced there was no foul play.

CCC legislators Job Sikhala (Zengeza West), Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North) and 11 other activists have remained incarcerated, charged with inciting violence and obstructing the course of justice since early June when there were violent skirmishes in Nyatsime following the disappearance and the callous murder of Moreblessing Ali, a well known CCC activist in Nyatsime

In other disturbing reports, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) director Farai Maguwu reportedly received death threats from Chegutu West Legislator Dexter Nduna (Zanu PF) on Twitter following the publication of a report titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga.

In the report, the CNRG details illicit financial flows zooming in on leakages of some three tonnes of gold valued at US$157 million a month or US$1,9 billion per year.

Speaking to the Zimbabwe Peace Project about the threats, Maguwu said: “I was taken aback and surprised that someone would make death threats like that on Twitter. When it comes to issues of natural resources we will not be intimidated.”

Opposition Zimbabwe Transformative Party leader Parere Kunyenzura was arrested during a prayer walk activity.

All this is happening as Zanu PF has accelerated its crackdown on opposition supporters in rural areas and targeting civic society organisations leaders nationwide.

A few examples include, but are not limited to the following:

In Bikita South, one Masakadze, a ward 2 councillor and a teacher at Zindove Primary School forced people to attend Zanu PF meetings in the area and said that if people did not vote for Zanu PF, the party would unleash violence on them.

In Tsholotsho South, it was reported that Zanu PF vice-president Kembo Mohadi met village heads and told them that in addition to voting for Zanu PF in the 2023 elections, they were supposed to use their influence to close the operating space for opposition parties when the campaigns officially start.

“You are supposed to work to ensure that no one in the opposition gets a chance to campaign in this area,” he said.

On July 23, at Rukau Business Centre ward 16 in Mutoko East, Zanu PF supporters attacked CCC activists who had gathered for their planning meeting for the memorial service of their late party colleague.

A mob of Zanu PF activists came from nowhere and started beating up people who were attending the CCC meeting, leaving three injured and hospitalised at All Souls Mission hospital.

No arrests were made despite the cases being reported to the police and the names of the attackers being known.

A Chivhu councillor, Tafadzwa Mukandi, declared: “If we see that you have gone against the ideologies of the party, we will definitely come for you. This party is the very party that enhanced the land reform programme from which you have benefited. When we then see that you are working against the gains of the liberation struggle, we will not tolerate that and we will definitely come for you … Some people died for this country, yet you want us to tolerate sell outs.”

Zimbabwe Peace Project

Linkages between food insecurity, child marriage

FOOD insecurity acts as both a driver and concsquence of child marriage. Poverty and food insecurity (or limited access to food) are interconnected issues driving child marriage.

While adolescent girls may seek relationships with men, including marriage, to escape food-insecure homes, parents may force their daughters to marry to relieve the economic burden of “another mouth to feed”.

Climate disasters and pandemic containment measures have been found to exacerbate food insecurity.

Adolescent girls living in child-headed households as a result of parents leaving in search of work are at higher risk of sexual exploitation in the context of selling sex, or engaging in relationships including marriage to meet their basic needs, including food.

Consequences of child marriage for girls

Married girls often face cyclical poverty and various forms of violence and abuse from husbands and in-laws.

Moreover, findings show a broad range of violence perpetrated by husbands, including sexual and psychological violence, intimate partner violence, and the denial of resources and opportunities (such as education and food), and that girls often lack the support they need to find safety.

Communities response to child marriage

Some adolescent girls, their families, and communities have remained resilient despite these challenges.

Some reasons for this include adolescent girls’ resourcefulness and survival skills; supportive family members, including parents and aunts; support from youth networks and peer interventions; community leaders and chiefs advocating to prevent child marriage and functioning community-based child protection mechanisms. Plan

Zanu PF chicanery weakening Zim opposition

AS Zimbabwe approaches the 2023 elections, the identity of the country’s foremost opposition party is once again under threat.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in recent decades Zimbabwe’s most formidable opposition party, has undergone a series of splits and reorganisations.

In the past few years, a small splinter group with little real political base fashioned itself the MDC-T, appropriated the name of an earlier, more politically potent incarnation of the party.

This group used various legal manoeuvres to strip the most popular opposition movement in Zimbabwe, known as the MDC Alliance, of its headquarters, public funding and the parliamentary seats it won in the 2018 elections.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, Zimbabwe included, the MDC Alliance underwent another split in a farcical manoeuvre. Douglas Mwonzora wrested the party name, headquarters and symbols from Nelson Chamisa with the help of the Judiciary and security forces.

Chamisa, with the largest following in the country, was left with a few days to make a bold decision on whether to rebrand his party or continue with the MDC Alliance trademark as Zimbabwe neared the March 2022 by-election candidate registration deadline.

The political identity theft was enabled by the messy history of MDC leadership succession and a Judiciary that too often bends to the whims of the country’s leaders.

Personality clashes and disagreements over strategy first split the party in 2005 after it emerged from Zimbabwe’s labour movement in the late 1990s to represent a viable contender for power in a country that had not yet seen strong opposition challenges.

Most observers agree that the rifts in the opposition have long been encouraged, exacerbated, and manipulated by the ruling Zanu PF. Such behind-the-scenes chicanery is buttressed by overt, transgressive tactics — including violent intimidation of voters, judicial officials, opposition politicians and journalists — that Zanu PF has used over the years to retain power.

In all fairness, it is not as if one of the major political movements in Zimbabwe is unified and only the opposition is fractious. Zanu PF has its share of internal rifts; its party provincial elections in December 2021 were marred by violent jockeying for advantage.

The murky push-and-pull between senior military figures and President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to fuel an endless rumour mill.

But these fissures are about competition for access to power and resources in an economy built around patronage opportunities for those at the very top.

Tilting one way or another among Zanu PF leaders promises little change for the rights, dignity, and opportunity sought by Zimbabwean citizens. The entire mess is yet another example of the contempt that many political elites have for Zimbabwean voters.

Whole constituencies were denied representation when the parliamentarians they elected in 2018 were recalled in the course of MDC-T’s efforts to hijack the opposition. Polls to fill the seats were delayed, ostensibly because of the pandemic.

Michelle Gavin



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