By Lerato Ndhlovu.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) report for January recorded 66 human rights violations in the country creating a hotbed for violent conflicts.
The report states that the social, political and economic environment prevailing in Zimbabwe is breeding ground for human rights violations and regrettably being perpetrated with impunity.
According to the document basing on the economic environment it focused on the right to education that is being abused by the imminent increase of school fees.
“The collapsing economy did not spare school children and college students as tuition fees went up in leaps in the majority of schools and institutions of higher learning resulting in numerous cases of school children being turned away from school for non-payment of school fees and levies set up by schools across the country.
“ZPP received reports of several schools across the country who have been turning away learners from school owing to non- payment of fees and levies, which is likely to result in an increase in the rate of school drop outs, making girls even more vulnerable,” it said.
“The government should speedily put in place measures that protect the right to education; lest accessing this right becomes a privilege for a few also ensuring that all arrears owed to schools under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) are paid as this will assist alleviate financial pressure from schools.”
It also stated that “although the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education received one of the highest budgetary allocations in the budget announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in November 2019, at 16.8% of the total budget, the allocation is not enough to cater for all the Ministry’s needs and continues to be eroded by inflation, schools are increasingly dependent on school levies to operate; which is an exorbitant cost passed on to parents and guardians.”
The report also raised concern over continued perpetration of violence by the artisanal mining terror gangs.
“ZPP notes with concern over continued perpetration of violence by the artisanal mining terror gangs. the Although the police has managed to arrest some of the gangs, including an eight member gang popularly known in Kwekwe as the “Maketo brothers”, there is need to increase the efforts so as to ensure these gangs are dealt with, once and for all.
“Criminals are capitalising on the fear that citizens have of the machete gangs to carry out robberies using the same modus operandi,” it read. “As security personnel scale up efforts to bring these mining gangs to book by sealing off their havens such as Jumbo mine in Mazowe, the gangs have begun to move into non mining areas including urban areas robbing unsuspecting citizens of valuables, in broad daylight.”
Examples of the machete gang abuses stated include: a tragic case reported in Chegutu, were a family of five women were raped and hacked with machetes resulting in the killing of two related women (aged 80 years and 16 years).
On 19 January 2020 a well-known gold dealer was stabbed to death by a gang of artisanal miners in Chiadzwa, Mutare West.
The brazen lawlessness of the mining gangs resulted in 50 machete wielding artisanal miners besieging a police base in Gokwe North demanding for the release of their colleagues who had been arrested for robbing a local miner.
On 16 January, a gang wielding machetes and guns invaded a house in Emerald Hill in Harare where they robbed the occupants of USD11, 500.
The report also states the involvement of the police in the mining activities without the authorities consent resulting in less gang members being arrested as anticipated by the citizens.
“Reports have been received from Jumbo mine where police manning the area have been accused of carrying out their own mining activities and in some cases allowing some individuals to continue with mining activities,” it reads. “Such a scenario indicates the absence of proper accountability mechanisms in the fight against the terror gangs.”
ZPP calls for: “The ZRP to intensify their targeted efforts to deal with the machete gangs, citizens to continue being alert and vigilant and quick to report cases of machete wielding gangs to the police, the respect of the Constitution to foster the democratic principles of separation of powers and other tenets of democracy and the immediate stop to selective application of the law by the ZRP