Zimbabwe Human Rights Association notes with concern the rising cases in political intimidation and threats ahead of the 2023 elections. ZimRights community human rights monitors as well as several reports in mainstream and social media have pointed to an increase in this phenomenon with the alleged perpetrators being from the ruling party and its affiliates.
Political Intimidation is the use of threats, coercion, or attempts to intimidate for the purpose of interfering with the right of another person to vote or to vote for the person of their choice. ZimRights community human rights monitors in Zaka received allegations that ZANU-PF affiliate organization called the Heritage Trust allegedly moving around with ZANU-PF aspiring candidates intimidating villagers and threatening opposition party supporters. Heritage Trust is practicing mock polling by gathering villagers at designated polling stations every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These polling stations are at Mugudubi, Bvukururu, Dembedza and Muroyi Primary Schools. In one incident they were recorded threatening to feed perceived opposition party supporters to lions in Gonerazhou National Park if ZANU-PF loses the upcoming elections.
In Ward 30 Chiadzwa Mutare West, community human rights monitors documented a case of a village head who has been conducting meetings with his subjects. In one of his meetings, he compiled a list of villagers alleged to be supporting Citizen Coalition for Change and submit it to the ZANU-PF aspiring candidate for further action. During this meeting the village head targeted individuals who are known for holding political opinions contrary to those of ZANU-PF. These individuals were verbally abused. ZimRights notes that these intimidation cases are not isolated but are widespread throughout most rural areas in Zimbabwe. There have been allegations that another organization, the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) has been involved in voter intimidation.
This worrying trend threatens to derail citizens participation in democratic processes, ushering voter apathy and anarchy. Political intimidation poses a threat to democracy, human rights, social cohesion, and progress.
This is a sad confirmation of the findings of ZimRights State of Peace Report, which highlights that over 50% of Zimbabweans are living in fragile peace, fearing the elections.
It is against this background that ZimRights condemns, in strongest terms, the acts of political intimidation as it is in violation citizens right to form, join and to participate in the activities of a political party and to make political choices freely as protected by Section 67 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Such acts are not only in violation of Zimbabwe’s own constitution but is also a violation of article 10 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which states that “Every individual has the right to free association” and article 11 states that “every individual has the right to assemble freely”.
It is crucial to address and combat such intimidation to safeguard individuals’ rights, promote inclusive political participation, and foster a healthy democratic environment.
In this regard ZimRights calls for the following:
- That the Zimbabwean authorities make sure that the upcoming elections are held in an environment which promotes free expression, assembly and association.
- That the citizens of Zimbabwe report such violations to relevant authorities.
- That politicians to adhere to the elections code of conduct which states that that the political environment is at all times free of violence, coercion and intimidation.
Issued by the ZimRights Information Department