Zimbabwe: Amnesty International calls for an immediate end to political violence; says attacks appear to be coordinated

As leaders of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) states prepare for an emergency meeting regarding the ongoing political crisis in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International today expressed serious concern at reports of post-election violence targeting perceived supporters of opposition parties in Zimbabwe.

The organisation called on the police to end political violence and investigate any allegations of police and army involvement in some of the incidents. 

According to information received by Amnesty International, incidents of post-election violence are widespread — 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.

Victims of political violence have reportedly been pulled from buses and assaulted at their homes in rural areas, townships and farms.

In Gweru, on or around 6 April, soldiers reportedly 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 7 April, soldiers assaulted shoppers at Mkoba 14 shopping centre in Gweru. The soldiers were reportedly in anti-riot gear and assaulted people with sticks.

At around midnight on 6 April, about 10 soldiers and two people dressed in police uniform arrived at the home of a known Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist in Mkoba 14 in Gweru. They assaulted the activist and two of his friends by kicking them and hitting them with baton sticks. The activist sustained injuries requiring medical treatment. Although the matter was reported to the police, no-one has been arrested.

Amnesty International welcomed the SADC announcement of an emergency meeting to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis on 12 April in Lusaka. The organisation called on SADC leaders to redouble diplomatic efforts to avoid further deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. 

“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,” said Mawanza.