Civil protesters on the increase: Report

HARARE - Zimbabwe has seen an increase in the number of civil protesters — anti-President Robert Mugabe demonstrators not aligned to any political party — in the past months, a human rights group has said.

In the country’s political history, protests have always been led and taken part in by members of opposition parties and civic groups.

In a report, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), said the number of civil protestors recorded between July and September this year stood at 3 383.

“An intriguing phenomenon has been the identity of the victims, traditionally victims of political violence were members or supporters of established political parties,” ZPP said.

“However, there has been a marked increase in a group of victims identified as ‘unknown’.

“In September 2015 — 41,4 percent of the victims were identified as unknown and in September 2016 the figure has almost doubled to 81,9 percent,” the organisation added.

ZPP said “the increase in the number of unknown victims of violence is indicative of the rise in the number of protesters who do not belong to mainstream political parties but are part of a growing socio-political movement in Zimbabwe”.

Mugabe’s government has been battling to quash rising dissent from protesters who are demanding his immediate resignation due to grossly mismanaging Zimbabwe’s once flouring economy, turning a blind eye to curb glaring corruption by his officials and failing to fulfil his 2013 election promises, particularly to create 2,2 million new jobs.

Several non-politically aligned groups have emerged in the form of #Tajamuka, #ThisFlag movement, #ThisGown and a host of other groups calling for the 92-year-old leader to step down.

The protesters further blame the government of failing to arrest the serious cash crisis and improve the people’s poor living conditions.

However, as the groups took to the streets, police responded through brutal attacks, water-spraying and teargassing the demonstrators.

“State-sponsored violence is pervasive in Zimbabwe and the statistics recorded in September point to a shocking reality of how violence is perpetrated by State institutions,” ZPP said.

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