They accuse the MDC-T and other political voices opposed to elections anytime this year of peddling lies about political violence. According to the government mouthpiece The Herald, “MDC-T has tried to push elections to May next year citing unsubstantiated claims of political violence in Zimbabwe”.
President Mugabe is quoted in the paper saying the claims were “flimsy” urging members of his Zanu PF party to organise party structures in preparation for general elections.
This refrain is going to be repeated on national radio and television until our ears begin to whistle. But Zanu PF, as is its nature, is being dishonest. There are many organisations monitoring political violence and the violation of the global political agreement which played midwife to the government of national unity.
One such organisation is the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), whose director Jestina Mukoko was victim to state-sponsored repression a few years ago.
She was abducted from her home in Norton and for three weeks the world waited with bated breath for news of her fate. She emerged alive but all the worse for wear after being tortured and denied access to medication. It was one of the government’s crudest attempts at suppressing information detrimental to its scorched-earth policy on elections.
The ZPP compiles statistics every month recording all politically-motivated human rights and food and other forms of aid-related violations. Its latest report, for the month of February, paints a gloomy picture of what is happening on the ground despite Zanu PF’s imputations to the contrary.
An excerpt from the ZPP report:“Exactly two years following the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009 as a result of the signing in of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on September 15 2008 among the leaders of the country’s three main political parties of Zanu PF and the two MDC factions, MDC-T and MDC-M, politically motivated human rights violations have remained high throughout Zimbabwe.
“A snap look at the violations figures for the month of February clearly shows that the continued bickering by politicians in implementing reforms as enshrined in the GPA has led to many people’s rights being continuously violated at the hands of war veterans, Zanu PF militias and state security agents.
“During the same month that the inclusive government was formed, the ZPP recorded 1 285 cases of politically motivated human rights violations. Politically motivated human rights violence continued to be recorded in the first year of the inclusive government with 979 incidents having been witnessed in the month of February 2010.
“During the period under review, exactly two years’ life of the government of national unity, there were 1 209 incidents of politically motivated human rights violations showing a marked increase from the January 2011 figure of 885.
“In the report ZPP notes the ever- increasing number of military personnel being deployed in most rural constituencies across the country and openly campaigning for President Robert Mugabe and forcing villagers to support only Zanu PF in a clear violation of the provisions of the GPA.
“From the reports, a number of people had their rights violated as a result of the ongoing national anti-sanctions campaign being sponsored by Zanu PF where the party is anticipating to get over 2 million signatures in a petition to challenge the West-imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and his allies.
“Soldiers have been reportedly deployed in the Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, East and West provinces. The soldiers are alleged to be working in cahoots with war veterans and Zanu PF youths to restructure Zanu PF from the grassroots levels.
“The ZPP reports also noted the partisan application of the law by the police which has led to the MDC-T complaint about the conduct of the police when handling politically motivated violence. Many a time, victims of the politically motivated violence have found themselves being locked up in police cells while the perpetrators are roaming free.”
The beauty about the ZPP reports is that the incidents are painstakingly tabulated by province and they are easy to verify.
This is the message Prime Minister Morgan must have carried on his successful regional diplomatic offensive in recent weeks. That the diplomatic foray was successful is evident in the way regional leaders, gathered in Livingstone, Zambia last week, upped the ante in the tone of the language they used to, for the first time, censure Mugabe.
As expected, Mugabe has gone on to defy Sadc. “Any organisation, body or group of persons that is established by the Troika or Sadc should not prescribe to us what to do,” Mugabe said in response to the Troika’s call for an agreed roadmap to elections which would have seen general elections he wants this year postponed to at least May next year.
In language that shows that Mugabe has literally withdrawn Zimbabwe from Sadc, he told the regional body that, “We are a sovereign state and as a sovereign state we don’t accept any interference and even our neighbours should not tell us what to do.”
This sort of language echoes what he said before withdrawing Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in December 2003.
Zimbabwe’s membership of Sadc has always been just superficial. Critics have always said that the regional body is a toothless bulldog. This has been true considering the big rebuff it got from Mugabe when he refused to accept the ruling of the Sadc Tribunal.
The Tribunal had ruled in November 2008 that 78 white Zimbabweans farmers could keep their farms because Mugabe’s land reform scheme discriminated against them because of their race.
Judge Luis Mondlane, presidentof the Tribunal, said Zimbabwe had violated the treaty governing the 15-nation regional bloc by trying to seize the white-owned farms. This was a test case for the Tribunal which is still in limbo because of it.
But Mugabe’s latest act of defiance happens when the world has changed a bit, that is, since the uprisings in North Africa and events in the Ivory Coast. The international community is now much readier to intervene in local conflicts that continue to adversely affect the lives of civilians.