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'Zimbabwe security forces stifling dissent'

by Staff reporter
12 Feb 2023 at 07:24hrs | Views
THE ruling Zanu-PF party is expected to win the forthcoming general elections while the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) will reject the results setting Zimbabwe on another disputed poll, a report by global research firm, Fitch Solutions has said.

According to the report published in December last year, Fitch Solutions anticipates a mixed outlook for sub-Saharan Africa in 2023, but flagged interference by the military and security services in the elections in Zimbabwe.

The report from Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research also concludes that the general elections set for July or August would prove to be challenging for the country.

"The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) has been in power since Independence in 1980, and international observers have regularly highlighted flaws in the electoral process. We expect Zanu-PF to win another majority in parliamentary elections, reflecting the use of incumbency advantages, but believe that supporters of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) will reject the result, particularly given that the CCC won 19 out of 28 National Assembly seats in by-elections in the first quarter of 2022.

"That said, we expect Zanu-PF to retain the broad support of the military and security services, which will continue to intervene to suppress any substantial dissent," the report reads.

In a report published after the 2018 general elections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) implicated riot police and soldiers in the deaths of at least six people and serious injuries to dozens more.

HRW witnessed the chaos on the streets of Harare, when hundreds of soldiers and riot police were deployed across the city, as residents awaited the result of the July 30 national elections.

Scores of soldiers patrolled on foot, indiscriminately beating anyone in sight as two helicopters in military camouflage flew several times over the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party headquarters.

The police confirmed the death of six people, though there are fears that the death toll could be higher.

"The heavy-handed response to Zimbabwe's post-election protests, including firing live ammunition, suggests that the security forces are as abusive as ever. Prompt, credible investigations are needed so that those responsible can be held to account and future violence is avoided," the late Dewa Mavhinga, then Southern Africa director at HRW said.

Pressed to act, President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission, which conducted an inquiry into the gunning down of several people in Harare soon after the 2018 general elections.

The Motlanthe Commission said in its final report that an elite brigade of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) killed innocent civilians in Harare and as a result, there is a need to reform the country's electoral process.

The commission recommended the compensation for losses and damages caused, including, in particular, support and school fees for the children of the deceased; promotion of political tolerance, and responsible and accountable leadership and citizenry, electoral reforms including the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT).

It also recommended that the government enhance the transparent and expeditious announcement of election results; the enforcement of law and order to ensure that the events of August 1 2018, are not repeated; accountability in respect of the alleged perpetrators; and nation-building and reconciliation including an initiative for multi-party dialogue and cooperation.

The commission established that the demonstrations were incited, pre-planned and well-organised by the MDC Alliance; the particular circumstances prevailing on the day justified the deployment of the military to assist the police in containing the riots; and six people died and 35 were injured as a result of actions by the military and the police.

However, Mnangagwa's administration has been accused of not heeding the recommendations of the commission.

Fears of violence escalating have been heightened after scores of CCC supporters in Murehwa were assaulted by suspected Zanu-PF members.

Videos circulated on social media showing Zanu-PF youths beating up elderly people for being associated with and supporting the opposition CCC.

The violence also attracted debate in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.

At the end of last month, two CCC legislators and 24 of their supporters were arrested for holding an illegal meeting in Budiriro, Harare.

The CCC members were granted bail last week.

Political violence targeted at CCC members also reared its ugly head when police attacked and arrested party supporters who were attending a funeral for a slain member in Nyatsime mid-last year.

Source - independent