Harare — HUMAN rights groups are concerned at the cases of political violence increasing ahead of watershed elections set for next year in Zimbabwe. This has manifested itself in intimidation and harassment that have beset the ongoing biometric voters' registration (BVR) exercise. Political activists, mainly from the ruling Zanu-PF, traditional leaders aligned to the party and the youths are reportedly misinforming people the BVR is a surveillance tool that will be used to smoke out people who do not vote 'wisely' in the 2018 elections. Voting for the opposition is seen as an 'unwise' vote and is risky. Cases of harassment have been mainly around the demanding of voter registration slips to record serial numbers or forcing of people to register to vote or attend political meetings, according to the Zimbabwe Peace Project. The organisation has recorded an increase in the total number of political violence cases from 178 in September to 189 in October. The approaching farming season has also contributed to an increase in cases of intimidation and harassment. Most cases involve Zanu-PF activists or traditional leadership omitting opposition supporters on lists for farming inputs food assistance. "There has been a complete politicization of government aid programmes," ZPP stated. It implicated ruling party district chairpersons, village heads and youth officers for the violations. Village heads were recently ordered to campaign for President Mugabe (93). In October Harare had the highest number of violations followed by the eastern Manicaland Province. This escalation is attributed to running battles between police and vendors. - CAJ News
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