Zimbabwe opposition under attack

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe have complained of violence against people perceived to be their supporters. There have been allegations of police and army involvement in some of the incidents in the post-election period.

Amnesty International has received information about widespread incidents of post-election violence, suggesting the existence of coordinated retribution against known and suspected opposition supporters. Violence has been reported in Harare, Mashonaland East, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces.

According to the reports, victims of political violence have been pulled from buses and assaulted at their homes in rural areas, townships and farms.

In Gweru, on or around Sunday, 6 April, soldiers were reported to have assaulted people in a bar at Mkoba 6 shopping centre. Victims told local human rights groups that the soldiers were accusing them of “not voting correctly”.

On and around Monday 7 April, soldiers also assaulted shoppers at Mkoba 14 shopping centre in Gweru. The soldiers were reported to be wearing anti-riot gear and assaulted people with sticks.

At around midnight on Sunday, about 10 soldiers and two people dressed in police uniform, went to the home of a known Movement for Democratic Change activist, in Mkoba 14 in Gweru and assaulted him and two of his friends. They were assaulted with baton sticks and kicked. The activist sustained injuries and required medical treatment. The matter was reported to the police, yet no-one has so far been arrested.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Amnesty International welcomed the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) announcement of an emergency meeting to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis to be held on 12 April in Lusaka. The organisation called on the SADC leaders to redouble their diplomatic efforts to avoid further deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.  

“SADC leaders should come out and publicly acknowledge the human rights violations being perpetrated by security organisations, war veterans, and supporters of political parties – and insist on an end to the political violence,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zimbabwe researcher.

“SADC should also publicly acknowledge that one of the causes of the increasing tension in Zimbabwe is the delayed release of the presidential election results. They must urge the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to immediately release the results.

“Zimbabwe has been allowed to operate outside the African Union and United Nations human rights frameworks for too long – reinforcing a culture of impunity in the country.”