Since the Human Rights Forum began documenting and publishing politically related human rights violations in 2000, there has been a sustained level of organised violence and torture, peaking at periods surrounding elections, public marches and demonstrations. In particular, marches and demonstrations have been followed by state-sponsored retribution upon citizens. The latter is of concern to the Human Rights Forum as it appears to be an attempt by the state to subvert any public attempts at exercising rights to freedom of expression. This particularly characterises the bulk of the violations recorded in the month of June.
Much controversy surrounded the mass action called for by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from 2 to 6 June 2003. The MDC claimed that the mass action, dubbed the ‘final push’, was an effort by the opposition party to coerce the government to agree to inter-party talks. While attempts were made to demonstrate peacefully, allegations of violence perpetrated by both the MDC and ZANU PF surfaced. Peaceful demonstrations were disrupted and participants arrested on the basis that the demonstrations had been declared illegal by the High Court.
While the Human Rights Forum unreservedly condemns the use of violent means in the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and movement by an individual or political party, (particularly the two dominant parties in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF and MDC) it equally condemns regular use of organised violence and torture as a means to curtail this right or to enforce law and order.
Particularly disturbing are allegations that high-level Government officials were actively involved in organised violence and torture. More than 5 victims made allegations that the Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Elliot Manyika, was actively involved in the torture of residents in high density suburbs in Harare, specifically Glen View as well as in Marondera.