February 2013 saw the government and President Robert Mugabe proclaiming the date for the constitutional referendum March 16, 2013. The proclamation set the stage for political parties in the inclusive government to campaign for a “yes” vote. Although the move did not see any significant movement in the number of cases of politically motivated violence, a number of political meetings were reportedly banned raising tensions across the country.
On the legal front the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) led by Professor Lovemore Madhuku challenged the referendum date arguing that the date would not give enough time for other political actors to campaign and let alone for the public to be able to access the draft constitution.
The month under review saw an escalation of the Zimbabwean state’s campaign against prodemocracy and human rights organisations with a series of office raids followed by confiscation of documents and arrests. The death of twelve year old Simbarashe Christpowers Maisiri in a suspected politically motivated arson attack on 23 February in Headlands reminded Zimbabweans that the nation still needs to be exorcised of the ghost of political violence despite public pleas for peace and political tolerance from political party leaders.
The state’s crackdown on NGOs dealing with human rights and governance issues has raised fears that the party controlling the state coercive apparatus is planning large-scale state sponsored and organised politically motivated human rights abuses similar to the June 2008 debacle in the coming elections. Zanu PF’s membership registration drive reportedly turned into a source of conflict as bullish members of the party seeking to meet ambitious targets resorted to forcing unwilling people to complete the form which required private and personal information thereby violating people’s right to privacy. Reports of Zanu PF youths forcing people to attend meetings where these membership forms were distributed and completed were received from both rural and urban areas across the country.
Another intrusive method allegedly adopted by Zanu PF in its membership drive was sending activists on a door to door campaign where they drop the data forms and demand that every member of the household of voting age complete one.
Please view the Report here: ZPP Monthly Monitor February 2013