Zanu PF still hunting down, harassing opposition polling agents, observers month after election – says Human Rights organisation, describes behaviour as a severe threat

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By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRNGO Forum) has revealed Zanu PF officials are still hunting down and harassing opposition supporters who stood as agents and some local observers, just over a month after August’s elections.

In a report titled The New “Error” focused on Zimbabwe’s post-election period between vote-casting day and September 30, ZHRNGO Forum describes the behaviour as threatening genuine attempts at democracy.

The report chronicles 153 cases of alleged state or party-sponsored organised violence, including two killings of perceived opposing individuals.

An independent body to investigate the cases was suggested.

“The unprecedented levels of post-election victimization are not only uncharacteristic of a victorious political party but pose a severe threat to genuine democratic consolidation in Zimbabwe.

“The Forum and some of its member organisations continue to receive distress calls from presiding officers, polling agents and some local observers who are being harassed for the work that they did in the just-ended harmonised elections.”

Zimbabwe has a history of politically motivated violence stretching to the 1980s when late President Robert Mugabe unleashed a North Korean 5th Brigade on perceived supporters of opposition Zapu in Matabeleland and Bulawayo.

As a result, an estimated 20,000 mainly Ndebele-speaking people were killed.

Targeted attacks on opposition figures and supporters extended into the 2000s.

They culminated in a dark 2008 electoral period that claimed almost 500 lives in an attempt to reverse Mugabe’s loss to late MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai.

Two human rights lawyers, two Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators and about five councillors have been arrested in the month under review.

A losing candidate from within CCC Patrick Cheza has also been jailed within the same period.

610 Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) were also arrested on charges ZHRNGO Forum has urged government to drop.

Adds the report: “Given the precarious political environment, the country finds itself in presently in the aftermath of the 2023 Zimbabwe Harmonised Elections, the Forum accordingly calls upon members of the diplomatic community to urgently call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to act immediately to put an end to the unprecedented levels of post-election victimisation in the country.

“To show a genuine commitment to do so by setting up an independent commission of inquiry to conduct thorough, transparent and expeditious investigations into all reported instances of post-election related human rights violations cited in this report and to make the findings of the investigation public.

“To call upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to investigate and bring to justice the killers of Mayibongwe Dube and Persuade Mandara as well as to ensure justice and closure for the family of Tinashe Edson Chitsunge (16) who died as a result of pre-election OVT on 3 August 2023 by bringing the perpetrators to justice.”