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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • On Solid Ground - Issue 02
    Heal Zimbabwe Trust
    July 04, 2013

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    Political Violence in Zimbabwe. Could history be repeating itself?

    Over the past 30 years of Zimbabwe’s independence, elections in Zimbabwe have been plagued by political violence. The propensity for violence and impunity seems to be increasing with each election and this is reflected by the vicious cycle of incidents of violence that has plagued many rural communities. The many harrowing reports of violence prompted Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) to carry out a survey in the political violence hotspots of Zaka, Buhera, Muzarabani, Gokwe and Murehwa. Most worryingly, this politically motivated violence has not known nor discriminated by age or gender. Instead, the violence has been targeted at all those suspected to be or are sympathetic to then opposition parties especially Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) human rights defenders, civil society activists and any Zimbabwean who has dared show any signs of dissent against Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and its largely spy infiltrated state apparatus.

    The results of the survey as well as HZT’s weekly alert system, reveal that the main instigators of political violence can be classified into two, that is direct and indirect instigators. The direct instigators are those directly involved in perpetrating violence and these include disenchanted youth, some whom are from militia camps such as the infamous Border Gezi training camp. The youth mostly operated in areas such as Zaka, Muzarabani, Murehwa and Gokwe. Some politicians, members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Criminal Investigations Department (CID), war veterans, soldiers and policemen can also be classified as direct instigators since reports from Buhera and Mutoko reveal that they were responsible for instigating violence. Conversely, indirect instigators of violence are those who are mainly involved in organising and funding the violence. These include the traditional leaders, some state security agents and political leaders who operate at various structural levels. It is important to note that some groups such as the police and army fall into both categories because they were at times involved in organising and instigating violence.

    The HZT survey revealed that 20 000 people were harassed and almost 100 000 internally displaced during the 2008 political violence. A total of 16 400 cases were recorded between January and June 2008 clearly showing how volatile the pre-election period was. The HZT survey revealed that the major incidents of violence associated with Zimbabwean elections are as follows:

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