Some 2,000 cases of political violence recorded so far; fears of bloody 2023 elections heightened — Report

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By Reason Razao

A TOTAL 1,901 politically motivated cases have been recorded so far as calls for solutions to the deepening polarisation and political intolerance escalate ahead of the 2023 general elections.

In its latest report, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRNGO Forum) revealed violence was once again raring its ugly head as protagonists employ dirty tactics to gain both political and electoral advantage.

The findings of the body’s probe centred on recent skirmishes in Mbare, Matobo and Insiza districts.

ZHRNGO Forum said cases recorded ranged from arbitrary arrests, malicious damage to property, arson, threats, harassment, intimidation as well as assault and torture.

“The recent events that occurred in Mbare and Matebeleland South Province and the hate speech and incitement in Mberengwa are all highly alarming,” read the report.

“These recent spates of politically motivated violence, which are unravelling just months away from the 2023 harmonised elections, serve to illuminate the dangers of opting for the use of political violence as a means of gaining both political and electoral advantage.”

Prior to incidents in Mbare, Matobo and Insiza, ZHRNGO Forum’s quarterly Political and Human Rights Violations Report covering the period January to September 2022 recorded a total of 1 857 violations.

“This, together with the total number of violations recorded in Matobo alone, brings the total to 1 901.

“It is apparent that the country’s deepening polarisation and political crisis need urgent intervention to ensure that Zimbabwe experiences a free, fair and peaceful election in 2023,” the report said.

Of the 60 cases that were reported in Mbare, Matobo and Insiza, ruling party Zanu PF was alleged to have perpetrated the majority of the incidents.

In one case of arbitrary arrests in Mbare, following a scuffle between Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) and Zanu PF elements, only opposition party affiliates were apprehended.

Following these skirmishes the highest number of complaints were recorded under assault and torture, where 41 cases were registered against Zanu PF in all the three places.