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New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
Institutional reforms - Human Rights Bulletin Number 49
Rights NGO Forum
April 01, 2010
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a history of political violence and impunity (freedom from punishment)
for which the state has been responsible. This culture of violence
can be traced back to the Gukurahundi era during which numerous
lives were lost in the violence that affected the Midlands and
provinces. Since then violence, intimidation and destruction of
property have characterized Zimbabwe's politics. Human rights abuses
have been encouraged and conducted mainly by state agents that include
the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), the Zimbabwe Republic
Police (ZRP), the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) and the Zimbabwe
National Army (ZNA). State institutions have primarily been directly
and indirectly responsible for the murders, disappearances, torture,
beatings, selective distribution of food aid and other humiliating
and shameful treatment of citizens. According to the Constitution
of Zimbabwe, employees of the state are supposed to be unbiased,
independent and apolitical (i.e., they should not be political party
activists) but almost all national institutions have become politicized.
The duty of any security institution is to protect its citizens
and ensure peace and national security.
instead, the security sector is now perceived as perpetrators of
violence. Before the formation of the Government of National Unity
(GNU), the then government used the state system to advance its
political agenda. During the 2008 elections for example, the
Joint Operations Command (JOC) was responsible for policy making
in most state functions. JOC is made up of the heads of the intelligence
organization, the military and the police. Former members of the
military currently head most government departments and parastatals.
Alexander and Tendi note that since 2000,
has been described as increasingly 'militarized' with military men
being appointed in key positions throughout the state, and an expanding
range of decisions and actions being taken by the military, from
political strategy to the formulation and implementation of agrarian
of the security forces have committed and continue to commit human
rights violations. The security sector was used by the then ruling
party to instill fear in the electorate through widespread acts
of politically motivated violence that were conducted with impunity.
The failure to hold the members of the security sector responsible
for their actions has damaged public trust in state institutions.
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