The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), a human rights monitoring group, has flagged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for narrowing democratic space after taking over power in 2017 through a military assisted power takeover.
In its monthly report for June 2021 titled “Wave after wave of human rights violations,” the ZPP said bad governance had dented the Mnangagwa government.
“In post-coup Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has continued to record wave after wave of human rights violations as the democratic space continues to narrow. Criticising government has easily become a reason for one to get arrested, harassed, detained or denied access to government services,” said ZPP.
Numerous opposition party activists have been arrested or imprisoned since 2017, among them Zengeza West legislator, Job Sikhala, Harare West representative, Joana Mamombe, as well as MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
The party’s youth assembly chairperson, Tererai Obey Sithole, is out on bail facing charges of allegedly leading anti-government protests while another youth wing member, Makomborero Haruzivishe, is serving a jail sentence for encouraging people to demonstrate against the police.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono also has pending cases at the courts after having been arrested last year for allegedly “communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state”, a charge that the Zanu PF government has used on many critics.
On 19 June 2020, MDC Alliance co-vice presidents, Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore, were arrested in central Harare for attempting to address a press conference on the takeover of party headquarters by the rival MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora.
The ZPP, in its report, also noted that there was conflation of the ruling Zanu PF and government.
“The line between government and the ruling party has been violated, continues to fade and in all this, the ordinary citizen is the most affected,” said the watchdog.
It added: “ZPP recorded a wave of evictions and demolitions resulting from the government’s policy inconsistencies, corruption and interference in local authorities”.
The watchdog said Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers topped the list of human rights violators in June 2021, accounting for 44 percent of the transgressions.
It also accused municipal police of rights violations.
“This month, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) dominated the list of human rights violators at over 44 percent, followed by Zanu PF and the Municipal Police at just over 21 percent each. Municipal police and the ZRP enforced the demolition of houses and informal trading spaces and the ZRP was responsible for enforcing the lockdown imposed by government in response to the rise in cases of COVID-19,” reads part of the report.
The body recorded 31 cases of food aid discrimination in June.
“Food and other aid continue to be used as a toll for political coercion and this month, ZPP recorded 31 cases of discrimination of people, during aid distribution with Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands topping the list at 22.22 percent each.”
“Zanu PF, which is geared up for the 2023 elections and is in the process of setting up local structures countrywide, is doing so with little respect for the people’s freedom of association. In all this, general citizens make 99 percent of the victims of the human rights violations recorded this month,” reads part of the report.
The ZPP said opposition party supporters were victims of exclusion from aid provided by both independent donors and the government, with ruling party members encouraging the discrimination.