«[COVER PICTURE] An overview of youth militia training and activities in Zimbabwe, October 2000 – August 2003 THE SOLIDARITY PEACE TRUST 5 ...»
• Moffat Chivaura, Trymore Midzi’s uncle, aged in his 50s: kidnapped on 29 December 2001, while the family were visiting Trymore’s grave to conduct rituals. His corpse was found some months later on the farm of a senior ZANU-PF official.
Other sources, including Zimbabwean human rights groups and independent media, corroborate the list from Amnesty International.65 Amnesty International, the Human Rights NGO Forum, Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark, and local media continued to report torture, murder and arson by youth militia among others, throughout the ensuing weeks. A few examples are listed below.
• On 30 December 2001, in the Harare area, five busses were allegedly hired by ZANU-PF to bus youth militia into Kuwadzana extension. They were escorted into the area by war veterans.
Kuwadzana, like most Harare urban constituencies, is generally considered an MDC supporting area. For more than two hours the militia assaulted civilians, destroyed windows in 70 houses and looted clothing. The police failed to respond to numerous phone calls for help. Police eventually attended the scene when residents began to counter attack the militia.66
• On 1 January 2002, youth militia overran a small rural business centre, Chinhoyi. They looted shops, including major retail stores such as OK Bazaars and TM Supermarket, allegedly selling off some of the goods.67
• On 2 January, youth militia went on the rampage in Ruwa, a rural business centre not far from Harare. They assaulted numerous residents including a pregnant woman. One badly assaulted man had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Wedding guests at the local community hall were also assaulted after the youth were refused free beer.68
• On 3 January, the youth militia, now referred to in the press as the “ZANU-PF militia”, attacked the house of a senior MDC official in the Harare suburb of Glen Norah. Derrick Mzira, who had run unsuccessfully against ZANU-PF in a rural constituency in 2000, lost property worth Z$500,000 in the attack. He reported the attack, but police officers refused to respond.69 Press and human rights reports in the ensuing weeks alleged further brutal attacks on people and property by youth militia in Chitungwiza, Warren Park, Kuwadazana, Highfields, Hatfield, Mabvuko, (all in Harare area), in Bulawayo and in rural centres of Ruwa, Murombedzi, Chimanimani, Mberengwa East, Kwekwe, Silobela, Zaka, Nkayi, and Binga – in short, across the length and breadth of the nation.70 These attacks frequently targeted senior members of the MDC, including MDC members of parliament, in person or in property. Scores of MDC supporters were hospitalised as a result of these attacks, and various districts became “no go zones” for anyone who was not a ZANUPF supporter.
65 The Daily News, Harare, 1 January 2002: “Harare terrorised”; Zimbabwe Independent, Harare, 4 January 2002: “Violence spreads to Ruwa, Chinhoyi”. see also “Pre poll 2002: Fighting for rights” – video funded by Danida, 2002 and ZHRNGO Forum violence report for January 2002.
66 The Daily News, Harare, 1 January 2002: “Harare terrorised”.
67 Zimbabwe Independent, Harare, 4 January 2002: “Violence spreads to Ruwa, Chinhoyi”.
69 Financial Gazette, Harare, January 4-9 2002: “ZANU-PF militia attack MDC official’s house”.
70 The Daily News, Harare, 28 January 2002: “MPs flee militia”; The Financial Gazette, Harare, 16 January 2002: “Green bombers run amok”; Zimbabwe Independent, Harare, 31 January 2002: “Militia impose curfew in Kuwadzana”, are a few examples of such reports.
27 B. Government response to rising alarm over militias On 8 January 2002, by which time the youth militia were already implicated in 7 murders, scores of assaults and multiple reports of property destruction and theft, Elliot Manyika, the minister responsible for their training, accused the private press of “trying to demonise the youth training programme”. He said the youth had “been doing various community service duties including cleaning up the streets.” He mentioned the gratitude of residents of Chitungwiza to the youths for their street cleaning initiative.
According to the minister, they had maintained a flowerbed near Chikwana shopping complex. He said the government would not stop at anything in order to establish training centres in every province.71 On 11 January 2002, Munacho Mutezo, the ZANU-PF secretary for administration in Mutare, was quoted in the press defending the youth militia, and denying that they were beating people. He denied that the militia training was partisan and accused the “local and foreign media in their quest to control the economy and politics of Zimbabwe” as having “politicised the National Youth Training Programme”.72 On 21 January 2002, The Herald ran a full page article entitled “National Youth Service … Instilling sense of patriotism, belonging”.73 This lengthy piece begins by describing the forced conscription of white youths into the Rhodesian army and their brain washing to reinforce their racism and sense of colonial supremacy during training. The article goes on, without any irony at all, to laud the current youth militia training in Zimbabwe. It claims that the youth training “enables youths to promote unity across the country through shared experiences … and to develop leadership qualities among them.” The training is once more claimed to impart a “variety of skills”. An unnamed commentator is quoted as saying of today’s youth: “They are a confused and lost generation … this is why they do not even understand why there is a Third Chimurenga to repossess the land”. The need for people to know the nation’s history and national anthem is emphasised. The article concludes that “it is generally myopic to dismiss national service as a plot by one political party to lure some votes”.
71 The Herald, Harare, 8 January 2002: “National service is not military training”.
72 The Eastern Star, Mutare, 11 January 2002: “Mutezo defends youth brigade training”.
73 The Herald, Harare, 21 January 2002: “National Youth Service … Instilling sense of patriotism, belonging”.
The Presidential election campaign “These youths were not at any point trained to be part of the Presidential campaign …[They] are not getting military training and therefore cannot be used to terrorise anyone.” Elliot Manyika, Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation74
It soon became clear that the creation of the youth militia months before the Presidential election of March 2002 was more than a coincidence. The youth militia played a crucial role in campaigning for ZANU-PF, not only in the Presidential poll, but also in every election since their inauguration to date.
This includes parliamentary by-elections and the Rural District Council elections.
The pattern of torture of opposition members already alluded to in the previous section intensified in the run up to the Presidential election and in the retribution that marked the aftermath. In one province alone, Manicaland, the MDC logged 6,085 assaults on its members with a further 7,728 supporters being displaced from their homes. Attacks were widespread throughout the country.
Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark, produced 3 major reports on torture in Zimbabwe during
2002.76 Many of the cases PHR-DK document involve civilians tortured in militia camps. Two detailed case histories of youth militia torture victims are appended to this report.
Some general comments were made by PHR-DK about the “green bombers” and their activities:
• The youth militia act with impunity: they are seldom if ever apprehended for their crimes against fellow Zimbabweans.
• The youth militia often act in conjunction with other ruling party official or paramilitary groups, such as war veterans or police.
• The youth militia were among the biggest groups of perpetrators linked to human rights violations in the first six months of 2002.
• The above factors lead one to conclude that the torture of others by youth militia is acceptable to the authorities, and in accordance with official government policy.
74 The Herald, Harare, 8 January 2002: “National service is not military training”.
75 Zimbabwe Independent, Harare, 1 February 2002: “National service: community work or electoral weapon?” 76 Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark: Zimbabwe 2002. The Presidential Election: 44 days to go, Johannesburg, 24 January 2002; Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark: Zimbabwe: Post Presidential Election – March to May 2002.
“We’ll make them run”, Copenhagen, 21 May 2002; Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark: Vote ZANU-PF or starve:
Zimbabwe August to October 2002, Johannesburg, 20 November 2002.
Information on following three pages adapted from these reports; photographs 6, 8 and 9, previously documented by Physicians for Human Rights, Denmark, in their 21 May report.
This violence has had a severe impact on human lives, leaving permanent disablement and deep trauma in victims. Furthermore, it has served the purpose of sending a more general, intimidatory message to MDC supporters in the communities of the victims.
While it is not possible to accurately estimate exact numbers of such offences, or the real material consequences for victims in terms of permanent disability, for example, there are obviously profound health consequences for victims, and for the health delivery services, that are being pointed to, but not elaborated on, in this report.77 Apart from murder, torture and destruction of property, which included the burning down and/or vandalising of homesteads in various parts of the country, the youth militia were also involved in other activities clearly both illegal and party political in nature.
77 PHR-DK May 2002 report (ibid) on post election atrocities found that militia were perpetrators in 6 out of 13 cases, the most likely group to be involved in violence. ZHRNGO Forum, December 2002: “Are they accountable?” which examines perpetrators of violence linked to election 2002, attributes around 10% of all serious violations to youth militia. These include murder and torture. However, this report takes into account offences from June 01 to June 02 and the militia was only deployed six months into this period, so statistically, their proportion of offences is more likely in excess of 20%.
31 Photo 6 (taken two months after initial injury): Peri-election torture of supposed MDC supporter in March 2002, causing severe disability. Burning logs were held against both feet. Skull fractured and cigarette burns on arms. This incident took place in youth militia camp in Bulawayo; the victim subsequently died in the first week of February 2003. To date there has been no prosecution of his perpetrators, in spite of a signed confession by one of them.
32Road blocks and theft of ID cards
One militia activity that became widely reported, was the setting up of road blocks in rural areas. The youth militia then insisted that people produced ZANU-PF cards on demand. If they failed to do so, not only were people subjected to severe beatings, but they also had their ID cards stolen by the militia.
In Zimbabwe, an ID card, which has to be carried at all times by law, is almost invariably the only source of personal identity people possess. To have your card stolen is to have your vote stolen, as without personal proof of identity you cannot vote. This practice was widely reported by human rights organisations, official election observer groups and the press.78 By polling, 1300 stolen ID cards had been reported to human rights organisations. As there are no active human rights groups to whom victims can report offences, in the vast majority of small urban centres, these and other statistics of HR abuses may safely be assumed to represent but a fraction of the actual number of offences.
The youth militia are also reported to have patrolled trains in search of people without ZANU-PF cards, who were then thrown off the trains by the police.79 Forced purchasing of ZANU-PF cards In Bindura, in early January, youth militia sealed off the town by mounting illegal roadblocks on all roads in and out, and demanded from both those who lived there and those passing through, to purchase ZANU-PF cards.80 This practice,which was reported countrywide, proved lucrative to ZANU-PF as hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans purchased the cards in order to stay out of trouble at road blocks, regardless of their political allegiance. ZANU-PF themselves announced that they had raised Z$ 500 million from card sales, largely at the hands of youth militia.81
Disruption of activities of senior MDC officials and rallies
On 6 February, youth militia together with a contingent of the Zimbabwe National Army were involved in the ambushing of a convoy of cars taking 3 MDC MPs to undertake constituency activities in Nkayi, Matabeleland. The 3 MPs were Gertrude Mtombeni, Abednico Bhebhe and Peter Nyoni.
They and 30 others were severely assaulted, after their convoy stopped on discovering boulders in the road. The MPs were imprisoned under appalling conditions at Nkayi police station, and later released and charged with the crimes that had been perpetrated against them, including assaults with axehandles.82 The youth militia routinely disrupted MDC rallies by intercepting and assaulting those trying to attend.
On several occasions, youth militia invaded rally venues the day before the MDC rally was scheduled.
MDC officials would arrive to find threatening youth militia ensconced on the pitch with the police 78 SADC Parliamentary Forum Report on Presidential election March 2002; Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Research Unit: “Briefing Paper No. 1: Pre-Election Danger Signals of Large-Scale Disenfranchisement”, p. 2. Human rights and Zimbabwe’s Presidential election (ZHRNGO Forum election report): March 2002, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, May 2002, p. 52; Zimbabwe Independent, Harare, 24 January 2002: “Militia turns party cards into passports for travellers”.
79.ZHRNGO Forum election report, ibid, p 68 80 Ibid.
82 Amnesty International, Urgent Actions on 8 and 15 February 2002.