Violent clashes within Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party, infighting in the opposition and skirmishes between soldiers and police have sparked fear ahead of elections next year. Ahead of the polls, rights groups bemoaned the rise in violations perpetrated in defense of Mugabe's family. Those resisting or criticising the family, particularly First Lady Grace Mugabe, have been targets of Zanu-PF activists. War veterans leader, Victor Matemadanda, has been arrested for a T-shirt ridiculing Mrs Mugabe following her sons' disruptive behaviour in South Africa.
Another Zanu PF supporter, Energy Mutodi, was also picked up by police for expressing similar opinions on Facebook. He was subsequently beaten up by known party activists while on bail. These are the latest in a series of scuffles afflicting Zanu-PF over the failure to choose Mugabe's successor. The factionalism has degenerated into open conflict with accusations of 'poisoning' Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a recent youth rally in Gwanda.
Mugabe has directed that troublemakers in the party be attacked violently before being handed to the police. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai is also besieged by infighting. Tsvangirai's deputy, Thokozani Khupe, was recently injured when party youth attacked her for breaking ranks with the party after joining a coalition to unseat Mugabe at the polls. Also recently, soldiers and police clashed in the capital Harare after the law enforcers put a spike on a vehicle belonging to a soldier. Zimbabwe Peace Project bemoaned raised concern at the violence trends. "This points towards a festering culture of political intolerance that potentially spells trouble in 2018 elections," the rights group said.