Youth supporting minister assaulted opposition, army officers abducted civilians

Incidents that occurred in Zimbabwe in August show a lack of commitment by the Government of Zimbabwe to the implementation of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Intra-party violence between members of ZANU PF which resulted in high levels of politically motivated violence taking place in Makoni North (Manicaland Province) between 21 and 22 August 2004 evidenced the continuing absence of “freedom of association and political tolerance”.

This equally applies to events in Epworth (Hatfield constituency, Harare Province) where MDC members were victimized for distributing flyers with a clash between MDC and ZANU PF youths ensuing. In Makoni North constituency (Manicaland Province) Didymus Mutasa, ZANU PF MP for Makoni North and Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office Responsible for the Anti-corruption and Anti Monopolies Programme, was allegedly involved in or the instigator of several incidents of assault and destruction of property. Youths who support Minister Mutasa were reportedly responsible for victimising several other ZANU PF supporters and war veterans who are perceived to be in opposition to the Minister, including James Kaunye, who reportedly intends to contest against the Minister in the ZANU PF primary elections for the constituency.

Moreover, about 15 uniformed soldiers reportedly appeared and randomly assaulted any person that they came across accusing them of having assaulted a soldier earlier on. The soldiers reportedly abducted some of the residents, accusing them of being MDC supporters and took them to the ZNA NOCZIM base along Mutare Road where they were assaulted with rifle butts, baton sticks and kicked with booted feet. Such actions by the Army against civilians are deplorable, in particular the random assault of civilians who may or may not have been involved in the earlier violence. The Human Rights Forum calls upon state agents to desist from meting out justice through torture, abduction or unlawful arrests, where any reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed is absent.

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