Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

June 3, 2008

Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot

Another eyewitness told Amnesty International that at the end of April "war veterans" in Chief Chiweshe area in Mazowe used the same tactic to compel unemployed young men to join them. Amnesty International was told that following such threats large groups of ZANU-PF supporters led by "war veterans" and those who had been threatened, carried out attacks on homes of suspected MDC supporters. For example, in the early hours of 5 May, one of these groups in Chiweshe area attacked and torched the home of a 61 year old MDC polling agent during the 29 March election. The election agent had been warned of the attack just before it happened and managed to flee his home with his wife and one of their three young children. However, two of their children aged 10 and 12, as well his elderly parents were left behind. At the time of the interview he had not heard from them. The group of ZANU-PF supporters and "war veterans" which attacked them were said to be camped at Chawona primary school where they were torturing people suspected to have voted for the MDC.


Dozens of homes and businesses torched in Gokwe district, Midlands province

At least 30 homesteads have allegedly been torched in Gokwe-Nembudziya area in the Midlands province. Seven shops belonging to business people who had given assistance to victims of the human rights abuses were burnt by suspected ZANU-PF supporters at Tsungayi business centre. Dozens of families who took refuge at Nembudziya business centre were allegedly also assaulted by police.


IV. Harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders

Amnesty International is concerned about the harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and leaders of civil society organisations including those who observed the 29 March general election.


Case studies

Zimbabwe Election Support Network

On 25 April, five police officers from the ZRP's Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided the Harare-based offices of the non-governmental organisation the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN). The police had a search warrant signed by a senior CID officer, authorizing them to search for "subversive material likely to cause the overthrow of a constitutionally-elected government". Police took some files and documents relating to the work of the ZESN. The home of Ms Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, National Director of the ZESN, was also raided.


On 28 April Rindai Chipfunde-Vava and the organization's chairperson, Mr Noel Kututwa, were interrogated by police from the Law and Order section of the ZRP. They were questioned on allegations of breaching Section 22 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23] which sets out offences of supporting or assisting "any group or body in doing or attempting" to, among other things, "overthrow the Government by unconstitutional means." From 28 to 30 April, Noel Kututwa and Rindai Chipfunde-Vava were ordered to report to Harare Central police station. Police have indicated that they can be summoned at any time. Police requested ZESN to provide a list of the 11,000 local observers it had deployed during the 29 March election, names of board members, and sources of funding including bank accounts. ZESN complied with the police request.


Election observers' homes looted in Mashonaland Central province