As the presidential campaign begins in earnest, of gravest concern are the 16 politically motivated murders that were reported in the month of January. This figure may be higher as it is possible that other deaths went unreported. This is the highest number of deaths recorded in any one month since the first politically motivated murder that was recorded in March 2000.
This confirms the oft-repeated assertion that Zimbabwean elections are almost always accompanied by gross human rights violations and loss of life. These human rights violations undoubtedly build up a climate of fear and terror among the electorate. It also puts paid to any suggestions that political violence may be on the decline when in fact it is increasing at an alarming rate.
The Political Violence Report will now be published on a fortnightly basis up until the presidential and mayoral elections scheduled to be held on March 9 and 10.
The aim of this is to keep the public up to date with incidents of human rights violations occurring during this period. A sharp rise in incidents of violence has already been witnessed in the first half of January as compared to previous months.
Zanu-PF youths continued to mount roadblocks across the country demanding Zanu-PF party cards in return for one’s safety and wellbeing. These roadblocks have ceased to be phenomenon of the rural areas but have also moved into the high-density suburbs of Harare. The roadblocks have even been mounted near police posts with the police turning a blind eye to the rampant lawlessness.
Four murders were committed during this period, one of them allegedly by war veteran Raised Marufu. Marufu is on remand out of custody over the murders of two MDC supporters, James Nyika and John Kamonera, in Epworth in July 2001.