PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations have emerged as the biggest instigator of last month’s politically motivated violations, which saw former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s party surpass the MDC-T among the victims list.
This is according to the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)’s February report which details acts committed by individuals and organisations in the name of politics.
It emerged however that overzealous followers of the Zimbabwean leader went beyond limits in attempts to source for donations for a bash that has become a ritual in the country’s political events calendar.
The party was held in Matebeleland South province’s Matopo area.
Among some of the most reported cases was the police beating and arrest of pro-democracy activists, Linda Masarira and others at Parirenyatwa hospital grounds when they were protesting the decision to hold Mugabe’s bash while doctors were on strike over poor working conditions.
Zanu PF political commissar and cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Mashonaland Central provincial affairs minister Martin Dinha were also said to have held a meeting at a Mount Darwin school where surrounding households, teachers, businesspersons, and all civil servants were made to contribute towards Mugabe’s bash.
“The working class and businesspersons were reportedly urged to contribute five dollars and the rest a dollar per household. Those who did not contribute were reportedly going to be removed from food aid programs starting from March,” reads the report in part.
Other cases involve one in which three young women in Chitungwiza demanded contributions from vending stall holders as a Zengeza flea market.
They threatened vendors saying that if they did not pay the $1 contributions; their stalls were going to be destroyed when 2018 election campaigns begin
A Kadoma ZimPF member whose name was not given is reported to have been harassed by alleged Zanu PF youths for wearing a T shirt written “Nothing to celebrate but to mourn "on President Mugabe’s birthday.
He had the T-shirt confiscated by one Tatenda Mapamure who later burnt it while police also allegedly watched the events from a distance but never took any action.
Similar cases were reported in Harare’s Epworth suburb, Muzarabani and Murehwa, among other areas.
Overally, the cases recorded by ZPP in February rose from the previous month’s 108 to 147.
“The month under focus had 663 victims altogether. Of these victims, those from the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) were 44 people 6, 5 %, and those affiliated to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) stood at 1, 8% which translates to 12 people,” said the rights group.
“Victims affiliated to the MDC-T declined while those affiliated to ZimPF increased.
“90.8 % of the victims did not reveal their political affiliations. This suggests that political violence is no longer targeted to known political parties but against those who may be politically inactive.”
A total of 663 victims and 139 perpetrators were recorded.
“One hundred and nineteen (119) perpetrators were affiliated to the ruling Zanu PF party which is 85, 6 % of the figure.
“Fifteen (15) perpetrators could not be established which party they were affiliated to and the remaining 5 perpetrators are members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” said ZPP.
Although the ZPP reports are not exhaustive, they however represent the country pattern of political violations which have seen Zanu PF dominate the perpetrators list.