Republic of Zimbabwe
Head of state and government Robert Mugabe
Mistrust between members of the Government of National Unity (GNU) continued to delay crucial reforms agreed under the 2008 Global Political Agreement between President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the two Movement for Democratic Change parties (MDC-T and MDC-N). Talk of an election in the second half of the year caused panic in rural areas affected by the 2008 election-related, state-sponsored violence. Police continued to suppress free expression, association and assembly throughout the year, through arbitrary arrest, unlawful detentions and politically motivated prosecutions.
The GNU failed to finalize a new Constitution, which is crucial if the country is to hold violence-free elections in 2013. The second All Stakeholders Conference to review a draft was held in October, when ZANU-PF tried to reverse new elements that would restrict executive powers and strengthen the declaration of rights agreed during the inter-party negotiation process. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), represented by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, achieved no meaningful reforms to guarantee non-violent elections, despite several visits to Zimbabwe by his facilitation team.
Remarks by senior leaders of the army, police and intelligence services stating their preferred election outcome fuelled fears that the security forces – which had been implicated in the 2008 election violence – would again try to influence the next election in favour of ZANU-PF. President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai publicly spoke out against political violence; however, no concrete measures were taken to end partisan activities of the security forces.
Although incidents of mass political violence remained low, mainly because there were no major political events in the year, at least 300 people were injured as a result of politically motivated acts of torture or other violence.
Freedoms of expression, association and assembly
Human rights defenders and political activists – other than ZANU-PF members – continued to operate under heavy restrictions. In urban areas, police were the main perpetrators, using the Public Order and Security Act to arbitrarily limit the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including by blocking legitimate meetings and activities of human rights defenders and other political parties. In semi-urban and rural areas, local ZANU-PF activists continued to disrupt legitimate activities of their opponents with impunity. Some traditional leaders were also used by ZANU-PF to restrict access to rural areas. Incidents of uniformed soldiers assaulting people attending meetings organized by the two MDC parties were recorded.