Political violence persisted in 2003 – report

Augustine Mukaro

POLITICALLY-related violence clai-med 10 lives in 2003, a Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum report revealed this week.



f”>The forum’s December 2003 report, which recorded the 2003 politically-motivated deaths in the alphabetical order of names of the victims, claims that of the 10 deaths, six were MDC supporters, two Zanu PF supporters while the other two could not be linked to any party.


The Zimbabwe Independent in October 2002 reported the politically-related death toll as having risen to 151 since 2000. Fifty-eight of the recorded deaths occurred in the year 2002 indicating the impact of violence during the presidential election campaign.


The forum’s report identifies Given Makombe who died on December 9 as the latest victim of violence.


“Makombe, an MDC supporter, died in Chirorodziva as a result of injuries he reportedly sustained when he was severely assaulted by members of the ‘Top Six Gang’ during the ‘final push’ on 3 June 2003,” the report says.

“He had earlier been a victim of a Zanu PF bomb attack on 21 March 2003, after which he, Konjana and Matamisa, also of the MDC, were allegedly tortured by youths and then arrested by the police.”


The report said implicated in the bomb attack is one Saidi.

“Police reportedly intervened, arrested and then detained Saidi. When Makombe was attending council elections in Kariba, he and other MDC supporters were apparently attacked again by the Zanu PF youths,” the report says.


It is reported that his health continued deteriorating until he died on 9 December 2003.


The forum deplored the continued violence and displacements of opposition supporters from their homes.


“It is deplorable that Zimbabweans should continue to be displaced from their homes on the basis of their political opinions and beliefs in violation of Section 21 of the constitution which guarantees every individual’s right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties,” the report says.


The report says violence continued in Kadoma Central following the holding of a by-election over the weekend of November 29/30 2003. Members of the opposition MDC reported being abducted, threatened and assaulted while votes were being counted following the conduct of the election.


“A number of incidents reflected a lack of political tolerance between supporters of the two contesting political parties with MDC supporters claiming that they were abducted to a Zanu PF base at a school in the area where they were beaten,” the report says.


An MDC supporter was reportedly hit with a stone on the forehead by Zanu PF supporters while at the vote-counting centre in Kadoma Central. He suffered severe injuries to the head. Another was reportedly kidnapped by Zanu PF youths, taken to their base in the area, and assaulted with planks on the buttocks and arms. He fractured his right forearm.


“The Human Rights Forum deplores the ongoing harassment of Zimbabwean citizens through frivolous arrests that are intended to prevent them from exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly,” the report says.


“This trend has prevailed throughout the year 2003 with arrests initially being made under the pretext that the demonstrators had violated the Public Order and Security Act.


“However, more often than not, as was the case with the arrest of 19 members of Woza and journalists who were covering the story, those arrested are later released without charges being preferred against them or alternatively charges are dropped before plea,” the report says.