“As from 2011, Zanu PF has been demonstrating no heed to the objectives of the Global Political Agreement but is returning to a method of terrorising villagers and MDC supporters into submission,” says CISOMM, a non-partisan collective of civil society organisations monitoring the implementation of the GPA.
“The security apparatus, through the service chiefs, is aligned with Zanu PF and have furthered no illusion of accepting any other political party in the leadership of the country.”
In a survey covering the 12-month period up to February 2011, civil society monitors found that the government’s failure to depoliticise the security sector was a serious danger to an orderly political transition and has worsened the situation on the ground. The report was published at a time when the police, in the service of Zanu PF, have literally thrown the MDC into a pressure cooker targeting the party local leadership and activists across the country.
Reports from Masvingo, the Midlands, Manicaland, Harare, Mashonaland West and other areas show a clear pattern targeting MPs, district and ward officials and councillors for harassment and meaningless arrests on trumped up charges.
While the onslaught on the MDC is not new, given what the party went through in the past 11 years, the people are naturally concerned about the future having experienced what they thought was the darkest phase in Zimbabwe’s political history until 2008.
To the majority, the work of Zanu PF signifies the proverbial last kicks of a dying horse. In the past, Mugabe and Zanu PF used food as a political weapon; held large sections of the rural population hostage; destroyed urban homes and businesses under Operation Murambatsvina; destroyed commercial agriculture; created 94 percent unemployment and closed down all hospitals and schools. But they failed to win back the hearts and minds of the people.
The monitors cast doubts over the ability of SADC and AU to force Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to accept critical reforms necessary to spur confidence among the people and guarantee an undisputed, legitimate and credible electoral environment.
“State institutions are unlikely to to be able to perform their duties in a non-partisan way, as many of them, are instrumentalised for political gain and the call for elections has already mobilised some of them into an early campaign mode with threats and intimidation intended to be reminiscent of 2008,” says CISOMM.
“It is quite clear that impunity for human rights violations can continue without repercussion and acts of intimidation and discrimination have resumed quite dramatically.” Zanu PF has adopted a policy of inciting its supporters to be intolerant and to use violence as a way of life. This resulted in a marked decline in respect for human rights and public security.
The monitors, in a report, widely circulated within SADC and beyond, say the behaviour of partisan security forces – working on behalf of Zanu PF and Mugabe – was so rampant that the structures of repression and brutality were still intact.
For a credible election, these structures must be dismantled through comprehensive security sector reforms. At present, the public media, the military, the Zanu PF youth militia, some war veterans, the CIO and an influential section of the police are instrumentalised for this purpose.
“None of the perpetrators of human rights violations have been held accountable and legislation is used as a tool of repression, with double standards being very evident,” the monitors said.
The public media has done the nation a serious disservice. Broadcasters and state newspaper companies openly parrot the Zanu PF line of violence and hate without any sanction from either the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe or the Zimbabwe Media Commission. Journalists from the privately owned media are routinely arrested and prosecuted and nothing has been done to deal with the anticipated reforms of media laws.
Generally, the Inclusive Government failed to prioritise legislative reform. The legislative agenda ranked lowest in 2010, with only six laws – all financial –managing to sail through Parliament.
Initially, the state had targeted 20 laws for change in 2010. What this means is that state institutions once used for repression, in particular the security sector and the Attorney General’s office, saw no improvement in their neutrality and non-partisanship as required by the GPA. MPs must play an active part in the implementation of the GPA and take a much more robust stance towards the continued suffering of the people.
“We urge SADC and the AU, as guarantors of the agreement, to adopt a much stronger and more transparent stance to hold the Inclusive Government to account.
“So far they have failed to ensure adherence to, or respect for, the GPA as under their watch, the outstanding issues have actually grown at the expense of reforms,” they said.
The MDC has, times without number, warned Mugabe and Zanu PF against dragging their feet over outstanding issues as they threaten to delay the conclusion of a successful transition. The MDC maintains the transition was necessary and in the national interest after Zanu PF suffered a humiliating defeat in the March 2008 elections.