Politically-motivated human rights violations in Masvingo province have gone up by 61%, a local rights group has claimed.
In its latest regional survey, Community Tolerance, Reconciliation and Development Trust (COTRAD) says over 400 cases of human rights violations were recorded in the first quarter of this year compared to 32 during the same period last year.
The survey revealed that the human rights violations increased due to the worsening social, political and economic situation in Zimbabwe, fueled by the El Nino-induced drought.
About 1,000 survey respondents accused the ruling Zanu PF party of allegedly using security forces, traditional leaders and party youths for violating human rights through unlawful arrests, violence and partisan food distribution.
COTRAD Information officer, Brighton Ramusi, said this is an indication that the ruling party is allegedly using the state machinery to suppress dissenting voices.
“Politically-motivated human rights violations ranging from unlawful arrest, by police and CIO, disruptions of meetings by Zanu PF youths, politicisation of food aid sky rocketed in comparison to the same period last year. Traditional leaders, politicisation of food aid by councillors, village heads and MPs increased from 32 in 2015 to 403 in 2016 due to the El-Niño induced drought which ravaged the province and declared a state of emergency by President Mugabe in February 2016.”
Some human rights defenders like Sungano Zvarebwanashe, Coordinator of Masvingo Women’s Forum, claimed that the report is an accurate reflection of what is going on in Zimbabwe.
“The report is a true reflection of what is happening on the ground especially to women as they are the most affected by violence, political or other human rights violations. Women bear the brunt of these violations. Because of joblessness and the economic meltdown women face the wrath of the violations as they are failing to fend for the lives. It really captures it but we think it was supposed to indicate how women are suffering … more than others because of these violations.”
A Chivi resident, Trinos Gombwe, claimed that human rights violations were
rife in his area.
“Here we are facing various forms of human rights violations for instance if you are not a Zanu PF supporter you don’t get food aid like myself I am a political activist for the opposition and my name has been removed from the food distribution list. Our traditional leaders and ruling party officials are the ones leading these violations.”
Zanu PF provincial political commissar, Jeepy Jaboon, dismissed the survey saying his party was not responsible for any human rights violations.
“It’s not true. Zanu PF is a big party and has the mandate of the people and is not responsible for distributing food. It’s the work of councillors and government. We are not a violent party it’s just that when a party is big people tend to make a lot of allegations against it.”
But COTRAD maintained that the survey reflected the truth and claimed that it had evidence to support its findings.