During elections political violence increases in March 2005

The month of March exhibited the lack of political tolerance and respect for the rights of others that continues to prevail in Zimbabwe, especially during election periods. This month saw a significant rise in the number of assaults, violations of freedom of assembly, association and movement and political intimidation, victimization and discrimination.

As the month began, a ZANU-PF supporter and war veteran, Gift Chimbandi, was burnt to death in his house on 3 March in Mazowe East, under circumstances that the Government press has described as politically motivated. The Human Rights Forum stresses the importance of political tolerance and the respect not only for other people’s views but the sanctity of human life. The enjoyment of every other right is dependent on the enjoyment of the right to life.

Reports throughout the country indicate that opposition MDC activists were prevented from campaigning freely. MDC Parliamentary candidate for Zvimba North constituency, Prince Chibanda, was allegedly abducted and victimized by ZANU-PF activists for trying to campaign in the area who told him that Zvimba North was not an MDC area. He was allegedly arrested by the police after his abduction. Other MDC activists and supporters were reportedly assaulted, arrested or victimized for putting up campaign posters, distributing campaign material or attending rallies. This made it difficult for the opposition to campaign freely for the March 31 Parliamentary elections.

There was further intimidation and reports of massive violence on election day itself. The Forum condemns such actions and urges the government to ensure elections are held free and fair and without resorting to violence.

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