Soldiers were deployed to residential suburbs across towns and cities as the stay away called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions starting Monday 14 January 2019 turned violent.
According to Generation Consensus, its activists on the ground reported widespread violation of rights by soldiers and police. The reported violations included abductions and torture, sexual harassment and assault.
“Soldiers and police also took the opportunity of the nationwide deployments to steal from ordinary people. It appears the soldiers had been given instructions from high offices to rob people at gunpoint off their money and groceries. Military trucks were seen driving into various barracks across the country filled with looted groceries and moveable property like television sets.
“It is now apparent that the military has crossed the Rubicon and has been turned into a mercenary organisation which is at the service of a few power hungry elites. The sacred uniform of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, which must embody the legacy of fighting for freedom and equality, has been soiled. It is now scarlet red with the blood of the innocent crying for justice and as such our army in its current shape and form is nothing but a group of blood-thirsty gun totting thugs,” Generation Consensus said in a statement.
It was reported today that at Budiriro Police Station, some thugs clad in military fatigues were rounded up by soldiers and beaten all systems out for putting the name of the military into disrepute and making it appear like the soldiers and the entire security organisations of the country have become a political force and thus do not deserve any respect from citizens.
“We urge the international community to be aware of this fact and treat the time in Zimbabwe as such. An army and police which murders and steals from the very citizens it must protect is rogue and must be stopped. As Generation Consensus, we call on all young people and Zimbabweans in general to be vigilant and know that this regime’s days are numbered. It cannot continue to violate people’s rights with impunity. The day of the jackal is coming.”
On 1 August 2018, the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians resulted in the death of six civilians and during the latest protests, the same force has been meted on protestors.
Generation Consensus urged the regional and international community to hold the Zimbabwean state accountable and appealed to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to investigate the murders and hold perpetrators accountable.
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned in the strongest of terms, the assault of Mr Descent Bajila during protests on Monday. Mr Bajila was assaulted by an assailant whom he identified as a ZANU PF youth. The assault took place on the streets of Bulawayo and Mr. Bajila had to seek medical attention at a local hospital.
“ARTUZ is aware that Mr Bajila was targeted for his role as a technical person for our Union. We will do anything within our means to ensure that those behind the assault are brought to book. We have received five other cases of our leaders who have been visited at night by unknown people last night. We are working around the clock to guarantee the safety of our members,” ARTUZ said Tuesday.
The Zimbabwean government has blamed the MDC-Alliance and its ally organisations for organising the protests that turned violent on 14 January 2019.
The Ministers of State In the President’s Office for National Security Owen Ncube is quoted by The Herald:
“Government places responsibility for compensation for victims of the violence, destruction of property, injury and loss of life on the MDC-Alliance and all its associates. Government wishes to advise all those who were affected that Zimbabwe law allows them to seek redress from perpetrators and organisers. We therefore urge all whose property was destroyed, goods looted to quantify the damages incurred and report to nearest police stations. This should serve as a lesson to all those who are bent on causing chaos and mayhem in the country, that your actions will not go unpunished. You are liable to pay compensation to the affected people.”
The minister does not mention how the government will legally enforce this. Several retail business, mostly Choppies supermarkets, were looted and property destroyed following a ZCTU Stayaway that turned violent on 14 Janaury. Government has said 30 vehicles were burnt in the protests.
At 13 people had by yesterday sought medical attention after sustaining gunshot wounds during the violent protests.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said it received widespread reports of protesters being shot during the ongoing protests.
“By midday, a total of thirteen cases were received, five in Epworth, four in Glen Norah, one in Mabvuku, one in Kuwadzana and two in Chitungwiza. The extent of the injuries and the exact number of casualties is still being assessed,” ZADHR said in a statement.
The association condemned the possible the use of live ammunition to contain the current protests.
“ZADHR urges restraint and calm on both the protesters and the security forces so as to avoid unnecessary morbidity and mortality. The state must provide an environment where protesters can freely express their voices without hindrance as provided by the constitution and international human rights framework,” the association said.
ZADHR is providing urgent medical care to those affected by demonstrations.