Harare — POLITICAL violence, deprivation of food and denial of rights to education and health care on partisan political grounds are on the increase in Zimbabwe where the ruling party is desperate to retain power in the next general election. Rights groups said research for February revealed a total of 147 violations up from the previous month's 108 cases. The month under focus had 663 victims altogether, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reported.
A majority of the victims were from the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), a breakaway from the ruling Zanu- PF. Violations were also recorded against supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change. "People continued to be deprived of food mainly by ruling Zanu-PF functionaries on allegations that they are opposition supporters," ZPP stated. In Mashonaland Central two people had their farms invaded after they defected from Zanu-PF to ZimPF. In a bizarre case, a citizen was harassed for wearing a t-shirt that appeared to mock President Robert Mugabe's birthday. In power since 1980, he turned 93.
People were forced to contribute between $1 and $2 for the President Robert Mugabe's February 21 birthday celebrations across the country. The flood-hit Matabeleland South hosted the 21st February Movement celebrations in Matopos, resulting in the closure of schools. Schoolchildren were ordered to attend the event while other violations such as harassment and intimidation and deprivation of property were recorded in the region. Mugabe and Zanu-PF stranglehold on power faces a stern test against a combined opposition in next year's poll.