Political tension rising: ZPP

HARARE - Political tension is rising ahead of a forthcoming referendum and general election next year, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has said in its latest bulletin.

In its monthly update of the country’s political climate and human rights situation, rights group ZPP said military visibility had also increased in rural areas.

“As the country’s major political parties gear up in preparing for another electoral cycle, political tensions are slowly rising across the country with 444 cases recorded in October up from the 365 incidents witnessed during the month of September,” the ZPP report said.

“Political polarisation is on the rise as political parties move to organise their supporters and begin to engage voters in preparation for the constitutional referendum and next year’s anticipated general elections,” ZPP said.

The Jestina Mukoko-led ZPP said Manicaland and Bulawayo had been most affected.

“Experiences of organised political terror are being relived in most parts of the country with an increase in the deployment and visibility of state security agents and soldiers particularly in Manicaland and Bulawayo provinces where they were engaged in human rights abuses in 2008,” says the report.

“In Bulawayo — two cases of torture were recorded during the period under review and CIO agents were cited as perpetrators. The torture occurred during police detention,” said the ZPP, citing the alleged torture by state agents of some members of Industry minister Welshman Ncube’s MDC in Bulawayo.

According to the ZPP, another emerging trend that was confirmed by reports from the two provinces is the simultaneous politicisation of traditional leaders.

“Headmen and chiefs have overnight become a law unto themselves assuming powers and appropriating functions beyond their constitutional mandate with the blessing of Zanu PF-aligned state officials and the police,” the report says.

“The food situation continued to deteriorate in the provinces of Masvingo, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South being the worst affected.

“Over the past three months, the ZPP has witnessed a nationwide trend where Zanu PF officials and traditional leaders aligned to the party are abusing their positions to deny deserving villagers access to government supported and donor funded food relief on political grounds,” said the statement.

However, the ZPP concluded that politically-motivated violence had gone down on an annual comparative scale with 605 cases having been recorded in the same period last year.

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