By Staff Reporter
ZANU PF’s stronghold Mashonaland Central province has emerged highest in terms of cases of political intimidation during Zimbabwe’s tense election month of July.
This is according to a July report on political violation cases per province by peace-based NGO, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
According to the report, Mashonaland Central tops the list with 42 cases during the month.
In the July 30 elections, Zanu PF emerged with a landslide 18 seats out of 18, virtually banishing their rivals from the province.
Mashonaland Central also remains a trouble area for Zanu PF because of unresolved factional disputes pitting President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s triumphant Team Lacoste against their G40 rivals who were once rooting for former President Robert Mugabe to remain state leader.
According to the ZPP violations report, Manicaland province comes second with 31 cases recorded during the month. This is in sharp contrast with Matebeleland South province which recorded just one case.
In Mashonaland East, another traditional Zanu PF stronghold, violations were mainly perpetrated by activists and traditional leaders as well as war veterans.
“Villagers were presented with a scenario where the two choices were either Zanu PF victory or civil war,” said the group.
“There were more election related threats reported in this period with victims being threatened about voting against Zanu PF.”
While most of the cases have been linked to Zanu PF activists, the opposition MDC Alliance has also been fingered in some of the abuses.
“The violations committed by the opposition activists have been mainly of hate speech, intolerance and occasional physical violence.
“Political intolerance has targeted women and has been manifested in tearing of opponent’s campaign material,” added the report.
ZPP also said that in some cases, villagers who did not want to be victimised after elections offered to be assisted to as voters during polling July 30.
“Zanu PF activists were also accused of ‘paddocking’ villagers and shepherding them to vote in a particular order for surveillance and for purposes of instilling fear,” it said.
ZPP also noted that while the biometric voter registration exercise was supposed to improve the efficiency of the country’s voting process, it became a tool for intimidation by activists who preyed on villagers who had little knowledge about the functions and purposes of the innovation.
This, according to ZPP, was compounded by that ZEC only responded to some of their fears at the tail end of the process.
Overally, ZPP recorded 266 political violations with most victims being of unknown political affiliation while Zanu PF contributed the highest in terms of perpetrators.
ZPP gets its monthly reports from a trained pool of monitors stationed in all the country’s 210 parliamentary constituencies.
Although not exhaustive, the reports give pointers to the pattern of the country’s rights situation based on recorded cases of political violations.