Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from AMANI Trust (Mashonaland Programme)

  1.  The AMANI Trust is a Zimbabwean non-governmental organisation, formed in 1993, and has worked with survivors of organised violence since that time. The Trust runs two programmes; the Mashonaland Programme and the Matabeleland Programme, with offices in Harare and Bulawayo respectively. The Trust is affiliated to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), as well as being a member of the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. The Trust has produced a large number of reports on organised violence and torture over the years, and is internationally well respected as an authority on organised violence and torture.

  2.  The Mashonaland Programme of the AMANI Trust has seen a very large number of victims of gross human rights violations since February 2000. Most of these violations conform to the definition of torture contained in the UN Convention Against Torture. It has submitted independent reports on torture together with the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). It has also contributed to the reports being issued by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

  3.  The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has made frequent representation to the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Ministers Action Group and the Abuja Foreign Ministers Group. It has submitted a number of reports with at least two of these reports dealing specifically with the Abuja Agreement (see Annex 1). The Forum has pointed out that the Zimbabwe Government has failed to implement key aspects of the Abuja Agreement and has also breached the Harare Declaration.

  4.  The way in which the 9-11 March Zimbabwe Presidential Election was conducted, 2002, has been severely criticised by many observer groups, both Zimbabwean and international. The Commonwealth Observer Group was one of the groups issuing an adverse report on the election, and this report lead to the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth for 12 months. It is not entirely clear from this decision what the way forward will be for Zimbabwe to return to the Commonwealth fold, nor have all the implications of this flawed election been fully digested.

  5.  This submission covers the period of the Presidential Election and the post-election period, and is informed by a comprehensive report shortly to be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretariat. The AMANI Trust look a very active role in monitoring this election, providing, together with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a rapid response team for legal and medical problems. The findings of the AMANI Trust are detailed below, and, as will be seen, add further evidence to the conclusions of other observer groups that the election was substantially flawed. The AMANI Trust has continued to monitor the human rights situation in the post-election period, issuing frequent reports on the human rights violations that continue to occur. It is evident that there is no improvement in the human rights climate of Zimbabwe, and indeed the evidence indicates a further deterioration. This submission is based upon a more comprehensive report that will be available in the immediate future.

  6.  As regards the electoral arrangements and the conduct of the Presidential Election, the AMANI Trust noted a large number of irregularities and impediments to fair conduct of the election:

    —  militarising the Election Supervisory Commission;

    —  drawing election supervisors and monitors from the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Education;

    —  disenfranchising voters through the voter registration process;

    —  disenfranchising persons who have renounced Zimbabwean citizenship;

    —  interfering with Voter Education;

    —  "correcting" the voters' roll;

    —  printing of extra ballot papers;

    —  disallowing postal voting;

    —  constituency based voting;

    —  simultaneous holding of municipal and Presidential elections;

    —  greatly increasing the number of mobile polling stations;

    —  drastically reducing the number of polling stations in urban areas, greatly increasing the number of polling stations in rural areas;

    —  preventing the accompanying of ballot boxes;

    —  limiting Foreign observers;

    —  limiting Local observers;

    —  registration of voters beyond 3 March 2002;

    —  confiscation and destruction of identity cards;

    —  allegations that the voters' roll is highly inaccurate.

  7.  During the election itself, a significant number of incidents of organised violence and torture were reported. Major targets for the violence were polling agents of the MDC and local observers. The police arrested a number of members of these groups. There were no reported instances of violence against Zanu-PF polling agents or of arrests of such persons. Furthermore, there were an exceedingly high number of arrests during the polling days, with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum having recorded at least 1,400 persons in custody for purported election offences. There were allegations that there were no reasonable grounds for many of these arrests.

  8.  The violence reported during the Presidential Election was substantially higher than that reported during the polling days of the 2000 General Election or the subsequent bye-elections. A total of 26 persons came into the AMANI offices to report incidents of organised violence or torture perpetrated against them during the polling days, all of whom needed medical treatment. There are confirmatory medical reports of the injuries sustained by these people. A number of additional reports of violence were made by telephone or in written reports. AMANI was unable to cross-check these additional reports. The overall total number of incidents of violence reported to AMANI was about 134 cases. This exceeds considerably the number of such cases reported to AMANI during the polling days of the 2000 General Election or the bye-elections.

  9.  The persons responsible for these human rights violations belong to the groups previously identified as the major perpetrators in Zimbabwe's current violence: militia, youth militia, Zanu-PF supporters, police, the CIO, and the army.

  10.  The organised violence and torture has persisted after the Presidential Election and, to date, is being recorded at levels higher than in the pre-election period. There is a campaign of retribution being carried out against MDC supporters, and it is significant that this violence was threatened prior to the election. The AMANI Trust has recorded many statements from victims of the pre-election violence in which their perpetrators stated quite openly that those who vote for the MDC could expect retribution for their actions. The nature of this violence, as well as the partisan distribution of food relief, makes the current violence akin to "political cleansing". A total of 64 cases, confimed by medical reports, have been received by the AMANI Trust in the post-election period. A total of 181 cases were reported overall. In AMANI's periodic reports covering the post-election period, it noted a small number of reports of MDC political violence against Zanu-PF supporters. These reports were not made to AMANI but were reported in the press.

  11.  Again, the persons responsible for these human rights violations belong to the groups previously identified as the major perpetrators in Zimbabwe's current violence: militia, youth militia, Zanu-PF supporters, police, the CIO, and the army.

  12.  The AMANI Trust thus supports the conclusions of other observer groups that this Presidential Election was seriously defective, and cannot be seen as meeting minimum standards for the holding of elections. When the outcome of both elections is taken together—the 2000 General Election and the Presidential Election—the legitimacy of the Zanu-PF is seriously in doubt, and until such time as proper legal determination on the elections through the Zimbabwean courts is complete, the Zanu-PF government and the executive can only be considered to be de facto and not de jure.

  13.  The AMANI Trust accordingly makes a number of recommendations:

    —  the international community should carry out independent, impartial investigations into human rights violations and should work with Zimbabwean civil society in such investigations;

    —  government, regional and international action is needed to reform the Zimbabwe Republic Police in order to promote the accountability and effectiveness of the police and to ensure that it carries out its duties in a non-partisan manner;

    —  government, regional and international action is needed to promote the Zimbabwe judiciary's independence and effectiveness;

    —  the Zimbabwean government should review legislation or repeal or amend those laws that are unconstitutional or violate human rights;

    —  the Zimbabwean government should ratify the Convention Against Torture with alacrity.

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Prepared 31 July 2002