Imminent danger of violence escalating and the need for urgent action

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, together with many Zimbabweans, fear that bloody violence will occur on a large scale during the coming period, following the 29 March elections and especially in the coming period leading to the possible run-off election for the presidency, or in the event of an opposition victory in the presidential election. The mobilisation of war veterans for a new round of farm invasions, and other forms of state and state-sponsored violence has already started, and this trend must immediately be condemned, halted and reversed.

Notwithstanding our expressed positions in our published reports that the 29 March might not be legitimate, or indeed was likely to be illegitimate, and that conditions were such that they could neither be free nor fair, we demand that, should a run-off be held, the conditions must be at least similar to, or better than, those obtaining for the first round of elections on 29 March. (See our reports ZHRF 18 March 2008, “Can the elections be free and fair in the current environment?” and Crisis Pre-election report, 28 February 2008).

We note that the language of war and violence is being used by the leadership of the present ruling party, which appears desperate to retain the presidency by fair means or foul. The lead story for Saturday 5 April’s newspaper The Herald, the only national daily, and state-controlled, was “ZANU(PF) prepares for battle”. Threats and intimidatory language by Jabulani Sibanda, chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, by George Charamba the government and ZANU PF communications and propaganda chief, and by Didymus Mutasa the former Minister of Security and Lands, demonstrate the coordinated nature of the violent campaign.

Significant material and financial resources appear to have been released by the State, to mobilise and unleash the ‘green bomber’ youth militias, the ‘war veterans’ (including the veterans of the ‘third chimurenga’, the land invasions), party militias, and the state armed and security forces – in the partisan interests of ZANU(PF). Reports already are coming in from many parts of the country about intimidatory, threatening and violent acts actions by these groups, targeting perceived opposition supporters.

President Mugabe, the ZANU(PF) candidate, has vowed he will never give up power. This position is incompatible with a peaceful democratic process and a free and fair election.

We, the organisations issuing this statement, recall the brutal and retaliatory violence unleashed by ZANU(PF), using its control of state resources and security institutions, in the periods immediately following the Constitutional Referendum (February 2000 onwards),and the presidential elections of March 2002, and in Operation Murambatsvina (following the 2005 elections – in May 2005 onwards). In all these instances the temerity of the population in voting against ZANU(PF) was punished with violence, torture and terror. We fear an even more vicious and brutal round of violence in the coming period, as the possibility of an end to ZANU(PF)’s hold on power (that it illegitimately claims as an inalienable right) now appears greater than ever.

We call on:

  1. ZANU(PF): to stop using violence, including its illegitimate mobilisation of state violence for its partisan interest, to attempt to coerce the people of Zimbabwe to support it; and to accept a peaceful resolution of the electoral process
  2. Opposition parties and the Zimbabwean people to exercise restraint and to avoid the use of violence, while continuing to seek a peaceful resolution to the electoral process

3. The countries of SADC to

i) intervene urgently in appropriate ways to persuade all parties, and particularly ZANU(PF), not to use       violent means during the coming period – whether there is a run-off election for the presidency, or there is a declared final result, and following the announcement of the election results

ii)In the event of ruling party and state-sponsored (or any other) violence taking place, to intervene in appropriate ways to prevent violence continuing and escalating

4. the International community to condemn the use of violence in Zimbabwe for political ends and to coerce the political process, and to take action in the appropriate peace and security frameworks, such as the Organ on politics Defence and Security of SADC, the Security Council of the UN and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, with a view to urgent and appropriate international support for SADC interventions

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.