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Monthly Monitor – March 2013
Peace Project (ZPP)
May 14, 2013
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referendum held on March 16, 2013 was a step
towards the holding of elections later this year but the event
also provided the government an opportunity to test its electoral
systems. The referendum provided political parties an opportunity
to hold rallies in support of the document leading to people’s
rights being violated. The number of politically motivated violence
declined significantly during the monthly mainly because the country’s
major political parties were all in support of the draft constitution.
There were 382 incidents recorded in March down from the 421 cases
witnessed in February.
While the major
political parties were able to freely urge their supporters to vote
yes in the referendum, it was not the case for other actors
such as the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and its allies who were campaigning
for a no vote. The NCA had one of its meetings blocked by the police
in Chipinge on the pretext that they had not sought police clearance.
The referendum exercise also provided the platform and source of
conflict during the period under review as citizens were force marched
to attend rallies in support of the constitutional draft. Several
reports of traditional leaders reportedly gathering their subjects
and ordering them to vote yes were received from Manicaland and
The police continued
to target human rights NGOs with the arrest and detention of Zenzele
Ndebele, the Editor of Radio
Dialogue on allegations of smuggling solar-powered and windup
radio sets into the country in contravention of Section 182 of the
Customs and Excise Act or alternatively with failure to produce
a listeners' licence. Ndebele, who was arrested on Friday 1 March
2013, was interrogated by the police over the possession of 180
radio sets which the police allegedly seized from the Radio Dialogue
offices in Bulawayo, was released into the custody of his lawyers.
Project National Director Jestina Mukoko voluntarily
handed herself to the police at Harare Central Police Station on
March 8 after the Zimbabwe Republic Police claimed in a public statement
on state radio and television that she was on the run. Beside the
message by the police, Commissioner General of Police Augustine
Chihuri also mentioned that police were looking for Mukoko. She
was subsequently charged with two counts of contravening the Private
Voluntary Organisations Act Section 6 (2) and (3) of the PVO
Act Chapter 17:05. Furthermore, the police preferred additional
charges which included contravening the Broadcasting
Services Act Section 38E (1) (a) for allegedly refusing or failing
to register as a dealer and Section 182 of the Customs and Excise
Act Chapter 23:03 for allegedly smuggling radios and cellphones.
A warned and
cautioned statement was recorded from Mukoko in the presence of
her legal team comprising of Beatrice Mtetwa, Harrison Nkomo, Tarisai
Mutangi, Tonderai Bhatasara and Tawanda Zhuwarara who are all members
of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
all the charges and explained to the police that none of ZPP’s
activities were in any way illegal. In her statement to the police
she also raised the irregularity of the charges and more importantly
that she could not be charged in her personal capacity. Mukoko was
then released into the custody of her lawyers after the interrogation
and the police indicated that they would advise of any further action
after assessing the docket.
In the period
under review the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission also found reason
to disqualify organizations such as the Zimbabwe Peace Project and
the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Association from observing the referendum on the basis
that the organizations were under police probe. However, ZPP eventually
received a letter authorizing it to observe the referendum weeks
after the referendum.
On 17 March
2013, police arrested four members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
office. They were arrested and charged with impersonation after
they were found in possession of dockets on corruption. Their lawyer
Beatrice Mtetwa who had been called to attend a raid at Thabani
Mpofu’s residence one of the staffers, was also arrested
for obstructing the course of justice for allegedly asking for a
search warrant. Mtetwa was held in custody and only released a week
later on bail despite a High court ruling by Justice Charles Hungwe
to release her. Mtetwa was only released on 25 March 2013 after
High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled that a Harare magistrate
had erred in denying her bail.
civic society continued in the country with demands for Memoranda
of Understanding by government officials being recorded in Masvingo
and Matabeleland South provinces.
fact that the numbers of politically motivated human rights violations
remain subdued, political tensions are very high as political parties
move to prepare for the upcoming harmonised elections. Political
factions have emerged within the MDC-T party and Zanu-PF parties
related to the selection of candidates. For example the MDC-T intra-party
conflict between Morgan Komichi and Xavier Edziwa was evidenced
after Morgan Komichi allegedly declared that other party members
should not contest against him as he should be respected as a national
leader. However, Edziwa argues that the MDC-T is for democracy and
therefore no one was immune. The MDC-T Sanyati District which is
reported to be against Komichi allegedly signed a petition sent
to the national executive challenging Komichi’s decisions.
On 29 March
2013, intraparty conflict turned nasty as violence erupted at Mubaira
Township when two Zanu-PF factions reportedly clashed. Two factions
have emerged since January when a candidate only known as Shamuyarira
made known his intentions to challenge sitting MP Sylvester Nguni.
Zanu-PF youths campaigning for Shamuyarira were allegedly attacked
by Zanu-PF provincial youth chairperson known as Dommy and other
supporters of Nguni. Two people were seriously injured in the attack
and were taken to hospital and released the following day. Property
at some shops was damaged during the attack but no one was arrested
in connection with the violence.
of the violations trends shows that March 2013 witnessed the lowest
number of human rights violations since 2008 despite the fact that
there was an election in the form of the constitutional referendum.
The highest number of recorded violations during the month of March
was in 2009 just a month after the formation of the inclusive government
with 1552 cases.
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