By Anna Chibamu
State perpetrated violence is on the increase with 80 000 victims on record, an official with the National Transitional Justice Working Group in Zimbabwe (NTJWGZ) has said.
The violations have been in the form of, assault, abductions, killings, torture by the state.
Speaking on Thursday during a reparations and rehabilitation dialogue series on key policy and practice considerations in Harare, Frances Lovemore said impunity associated with violence supported by the state structures has left thousands of victims not rehabilitated or legally represented.
Lovemore told delegates at the dialogue series that crimes against the population were worrying with no sign the government was willing to help those affected by the violence.
she made reference to victims of the current machete wars that have led to killings on hundreds of villagers in the country’s mining and surrounding areas.
“We are greatly concerned about the developing situation in Zimbabwe. Violence has been perpetrated by the state and political activism.
“The burden remains to assess some of the atrocities that have been perpetrated by the state agencies. From post-independence, there has been a vicious cycle to killings, abductions and organised torture of thousands of civilians. 80 000 people have suffered some form of violence perpetrated by the state and its structures.
“Land conflict, political conflict (both intra-party and inter-party violence), mineral resource access to economic projects have precipitated the systematic atrocities of killings of 10 000 people, abductions of 7000 and organised torture as the state also fails to protect the citizens,” said Lovemore.
Lovemore said the escalating machete wars torched by mineral resource conflicts have been worsened by lack of acknowledgement by the state that there is an existence of gross human rights abuses with no mechanisms to address the conflict.
“The state has not protected civilians. 5% or less of those arrested have managed to get legal representation in courts. The state has also failed to acknowledge atrocities of the 80s in Matabeleland (Gukurahundi)…” added Lovemore.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged the country to move on saying “Let bygones be Bygones” but the deputy chairman of NTJWGZ Paul Themba Nyathi dismissed the sentiments which he said were tantamount to causing polarisation in the country.
Lovemore urged the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to be ceased with the issues which she argued have been left to human rights organisations.
“The deterioration in political and economic environment has made it difficult for NPRC to its work,” Lovemore said.