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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Monitor: Election Edition
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
August 07, 2013
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watershed election period still underway, Zimbabweans remain
vigilant in maintaining peace.
Results are beginning to trickle in and, inevitably, tensions build
up between winning and losing parties.
The voice of
reason should prevail so that, for once, Zimbabwe moves into a peaceful
post election period.
not new to Zimbabwe. So is the common denominator. Violence, intimidation,
arrests and disputed results have been part of Zimbabwe’s
election process since Independence in 1980.
It has not been
too different in the build up to this year’s election.
While, in general,
the lead-up to the 2013 elections has been characterised by lower
levels of overt violence than the period preceding the March
2008 election and the period before the June
2008 presidential election run-off, there was a deliberate ploy
to silence Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and political activists.
There were continued
incidences of intimidation and politically-motivated violence, particularly
in rural and remote constituencies, and high density and peri-urban
leaders and political party youths allowed themselves to be used
by powerful politicians with means for their personal and party-political
agendas of power retention, leading to inter-party violence and
rights violations. So too, cases of intra-party violence and rights
violations have regrettably been documented across the political
What has been
of more concern in the pre-election period is the nuanced, strategic
and malevolently intentional targeting of political activists and
HRDs in efforts to undermine and disrupt their activities. As such,
ZLHR has recorded increased instances in which mobilisers, educators,
human rights monitors and those providing critical legal and psychosocial
support services have been intentionally sought out for intimidation,
harassment and attack.
mobilisers have been, and continue to be, subjected to arbitrary
arrest, detention and drawn-out trials in efforts to remove them
from their constituencies at critical times in the run-up to elections.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) – the watchdogs of society
- have faced raids under the cover of search warrants of questionable
legality; confiscation of documentation; unjustified threats and
intimidation by senior law enforcement agents, criminilisation of
their lawful activities; selective application of repressive and
unreformed laws; malicious prosecution, and abuse through political
and the resort to violence have unfortunately become part of the
fabric of our society and there is need for continued efforts to
be made to encourage conflict prevention and resolution initiatives
wherever it has manifested.
And it is not
too late for Zimbabwe to turn the corner. We just have to look at
our past and realise we cannot afford any more scars.
The wounds from
previous elections are all still too fresh. The last election was
in 2008 and the violence associated with that disputed poll are
still haunting thousands, if not millions, of Zimbabweans.
sweeping across the country with Zimbabwe resembling a war zone,
only that there was no war. Political parties, civil society reported
that what was supposed to be a routine election resulted in killings,
disappearances, rape and looting.
Victims of that
era are still in pain and they fear the worst if this year’s
election is not managed properly.
ill-functioning hospitals were packed across the country with villagers
severely assaulted during and after the sham June 27 2008 presidential
election runoff. Thousands others fled their homes and became refugees
in their own countries after their houses were burnt down. Still,
they were the lucky ones.
lives were lost in the political violence. Sadly, it is not just
the 2008 experience which informs of the need to change course in
the way we conduct ourselves in times of political differences.
Zimbabwe has experienced repeated episodes of violence, at times
perpetrated or sponsored by the State.
Barely a year
into Independence, Zimbabwe’s new government had already engaged
North Korean military instructors to sharpen a brutal brigade which
was later to unleash terror in Matabeleland region.
From 1983 to
1987, the Fifth Brigade is reported to have killed over 20 000 civilians,
including pregnant women and children, whose bodies were dumped
in shallow graves, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice
Even those too
young or not yet born to witness or survive Gukurahundi have their
In farms, close
to a million black farm workers were forced to live on the mountains,
sharing food and water with wild animals – thanks to a land
reform programme whose violent nature affected infants and the elderly
alike in the farm worker community.
still homeless. Others, like dozens from Mazowe being represented
by Zimbabwe Lawyers from Human Rights, are still being forced out
of homes they have known for decades by new farm owners.
are not the only ones nursing the scars of being rendered homeless.
such as Hopley Farm just outside Harare, dozens of families still
bear the brunt of Operation
Murambatsvina (Drive out the filth). In Mutare, other families
are so desperate they are living in a disused council beer hall,
and even then, they needed legal help from ZLHR to continue residing
in the beer hall after attempts to evict them.
This is what
UN Special Envoy on Human Settlements Issues Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka,
who conducted an investigation into the operation, described it
in her report: “Popularly referred to as Operation Tsunami
because of its speed and ferocity it resulted in the destruction
of homes, business premises and vending sites. It is estimated that
some 700,000 people in cities across the country have lost either
their homes, their source of livelihood or both.
a further 2.4million people have been affected in varying degrees.
Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children were made homeless,
without access to food, water and sanitation, or health care. Education
for thousands of school age children has been disrupted.
of the sick, including those with HIV and AIDS, no longer have access
to care. The vast majority of those directly and indirectly affected
are the poor and disadvantaged segments of the population. They
are, today, deeper in poverty, deprivation and destitution, and
have been rendered more vulnerable.”
and the authorities have the chance to break from such a unhappy
past and move into the future with hope and unity of purpose.
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