Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

June 3, 2008

Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

On 25 April, armed police raided the MDC party headquarters in Harare and arrested and detained at least 300 MDC supporters on allegations that they had committed various offences related to political violence. The detainees were mainly people who had taken refuge at the party's offices after fleeing the violence in rural areas following the 29 March elections. The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that 215 of those arrested were detained at Harare Central police station.9


According to information obtained by Amnesty International, 35 of those arrested were children whose age ranged from a few months to 11 years. The majority of the detainees were women and elderly people. About 180 of the detainees were released on 28 April after the MDC obtained a High Court order for their release. A senior MDC official told Amnesty International that on 27 April police at Braeside police station in Harare denied 14 women detainees access to food. MDC officials reportedly brought food for the detainees at around 6pm and were told by police officers on duty that they could not feed the detainees because there was no electricity. Although the MDC officials offered to provide alternative lighting police reportedly refused.


Victims blocked by state security agents from accessing medical care

At the end of April, soldiers at a checkpoint near the town of Chinhoyi stopped a truck carrying 22 victims of political violence from Gokwe North constituency in the Midlands province. The victims were on their way to seek treatment for injuries sustained after being attacked by suspected ZANU-PF supporters. The soldiers allegedly beat up the driver and some of the victims and ordered the truck to return to Nembudziya area.


Ambulance stopped from transporting seriously injured people from Kotwa to Harare

In April the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights reported that an ambulance that had been sent from Harare to ferry seriously injured victims from Kotwa Hospital in Mashonaland East was blocked by people believed to be members of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation and "war veterans". The driver of the ambulance was threatened and followed by an unmarked vehicle for about 100 kilometres. Similar incidents have also been reported by medical personnel across the country.


III. Human rights violations by "war veterans" and ZANU-PF supporters

Leaders of ZANU-PF and MDC have blamed each other for the violence that has taken place since the 29 March elections. There have been inter-party clashes reported in Zimuto, Gutu and Zaka in Masvingo province. The state-controlled Herald newspaper also reported that MDC and ZANU-PF supporters had their homes destroyed during clashes between supporters of the two political parties in Rusununguko Village Two in the Mayo resettlement area in Manicaland province.10


However, cases recorded by local human rights groups and Amnesty International show that the "war veterans" working with ZANU-PF supporters are responsible for the bulk of the human rights abuses. The victims were targeted because of their political affiliation.