Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2011

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Head of state and government: Robert Mugabe
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 12.6 million
Life expectancy: 47 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 100/88 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 91.4 per cent

Police continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain human rights defenders and journalists undertaking legitimate human rights work. There was some loosening of restrictions on the media and Parliament debated a bill to reform the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people faced persecution. The victims of the 2005 forced evictions continued to live in deplorable conditions with some being targeted for eviction or facing the threat of eviction.

Background

Tension within the government of national unity (GNU) continued to undermine the implementation of some aspects of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) brokered by the leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in September 2008. In August 2010, a meeting was held during the SADC summit in Namibia to break the deadlock within the GNU. Despite several trips to Zimbabwe by the SADC-appointed South African mediation team, there was little movement.

President Mugabe made several unilateral decisions that breached the provisions of the GPA and the Constitution requiring consultation with the Prime Minister. In March, he assigned ministerial functions, leaving some ministers affiliated to the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties without specific responsibilities. In October, President Mugabe reappointed 10 provincial governors, all from his party ZANU-PF, in breach of a prior agreement to share governorships. Other such decisions included the reassignment of ambassadors and the appointment of judges. The President also continued to refuse to swear in Roy Bennett of the MDC party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

ZANU-PF decided not to make further concessions in the GNU unless sanctions imposed by the EU and the USA were lifted. At its summit in August, the SADC decided to engage with the international community on the issue of sanctions.

Members of the Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Media Commission and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were appointed in March although the Human Rights Commission had not started working by the end of the year.

The drafting of a new Constitution started with public consultations, although some meetings were abandoned because of violence and disruption mainly by supporters of ZANU-PF. At least one person died in Harare after being attacked by alleged ZANU-PF supporters in violence that followed the disruption of a constitutional consultation meeting in September. There was no progress in reforming the security sector.

The economy continued to show signs of improvement, although formal unemployment remained above 80 per cent and an estimated 1.5 million people were in need of food aid.

Statements about a possible election in 2011 by President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and the SADC facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, heightened tension in the country. In rural areas there were increased reports of harassment and intimidation of perceived opponents of ZANU-PF. State security agents, implicated in the 2008 political violence, were reported to be assisting ZANU-PF to rebuild its structures.

Human rights defenders

Police continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain human rights defenders and journalists for their legitimate human rights work. Human rights defenders involved in the Constitution-drafting process or engaged in debate on accountability for past human rights violations were specifically targeted. At least 186 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA) were arrested during 2010.