Security means uncurling my toes….


By EverJoice Win

What does security mean to you? That was the question surrounding this year’s 16 days of activism theme. Militarism, conflict, state sponsored violence, political violence, were some of the sub-themes we campaigned on. We talked about the big stuff, the big news tickets of the moment. The news coming out of Syria continues to be unbearable. Libya is still on the boil. In the DR Congo, thousands are fleeing across the borders, fearing for their lives as the election results are about to be announced. In Burma, Hillary Clinton smiled for the cameras and got paly-paly with the generals, temporarily shorn of their uniforms for better picture quality. In various Northern capitals anti capitalist protestors were carted off the streets, sometimes violently. At COP17, things got ugly and civil society had to be shoved back into their small allotted space. The wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan rage on. None of these places is too far away or too foreign. I know women there. I have met them. I know their names. They are my friends. I worry about them. I text. I email. I Skype them. Just to make sure they are ok. Being a global citizen means you curl your toes each time you watch the news.

The so called ‘security forces’ and law enforcement agencies continue to frighten me and other women out of our wits. In my home number two, the South African Police service decided that adopting militarised titles and ranks was the way to…..what? Instill discipline? Show seriousness? Give the service more gravitas? Induce fear? Each time I enter Rosebank police station to get my documents certified, I am greeted by a “colonel”, and sometimes a “lieutenant” looks over his shoulder. I clutch my bags in fear. I smile feebly and answer their questions with too many words, and run out as soon as I can. Thankfully I have never had to report a crime, or ask to be taken to a place of safety by these “soldiers”, because I just don’t know where they would take me! I don’t feel secure with a police man called “general”, no matter how much he smiles, or tries to convince me he is here for my protection.

In home number one, my state President goes by the grand title of, “Comrade Robert Mugabe, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the First Secretary of ZANU PF and commander in chief of the armed forces”. This for a man with seven (well earned), University degrees! If he needed any accolades he has the BA, BA Hons, etc to pick from. Being told that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces is not meant to make me respect the man. It says, ‘Be very afraid. He has guns. Pointed at your head. One move we don’t like and we pull the triggerS”. I know who is in control. And if I forget I am reminded on the hour every hour by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

I curl my toes. I draw my knees together. That is the effect men in uniform have on me. The military industrial complex announces itself, advertises itself and reminds us ‘they’ are in control of our countries, our lives, our bodies.

But it is not only these visible manifestations of our militarised world that make me insecure. Going to the supermarket makes me frightened. I am scared to see the price of food. I worry about whether there will be enough month left at the end of the money. I am too scared to ask a woman with three children how she lives on a twenty dollars per month wage. Yesterday I took my son to a doctor and she asked for 50 dollars just to write a referral note to the radiographer. In the space of two weeks I have buried two women, both aged 44, both died from diseases that could have been easily managed. I don’t fear death. I fear an undignified and painfully unnecessary death, such as I have seen countless times around me.

Two days ago I met a beautiful young person who identifies themselves as trans-gender. I immediately started worrying about how she was going to get out of that hotel back to her home in the township. What hoops she would have to navigate to ensure her own safety. I keep hearing the hateful sermons preached at one of those funerals I went to, “these ngochani are an abomination! We must cast the devils out of them! If you are a ngochani come forward so we pray for you!” I keep curling my toes and drawing my knees up.

A lot can happen in 16 days. And it did! So we come to the end of this year’s 16 days of activism against gender based violence. It has been an amazing two decades of organising by women, and a few good men, all over the world. To hear some talk today you would think they invented the campaign and made us women too while they were at it. Well let us not go there. I suppose we should just be happy that what started off as an idea, almost a pipe dream, with only 24 women, has grown to be one of the most well known global campaigns. Who says the feminist movement is small, insignificant and the changes it has brought can’t be “measured. If anybody had asked us on that bright summer day at Rutgers, what will success look like? How will you measure it? I don’t think we would have been able to provide an answer, let alone imagine that this is what the 16 days campaign would achieve. Hear yea, monitoring and evaluation zealots. This is what success looks like!

So what does security mean to me? It means uncurling my toes, unclenching my knuckles, free of fear – real or imagined, and living a life of dignity, experiencing sexual and other kinds of pleasure, and having the right to make choices.

Silenced voices at home; orators abroad-the universality of justice


By Kuda Chitsike

One of the major reasons, leading to the negotiation of the Global Political Agreement was that violence during the run off period had reached unprecedented levels. Approximately 200 people were killed, thousands displaced and assaulted, but there was no mention of the rape that women suffered. It is well known that there was widespread violence, but what is less known is that sexual violence was perpetrated against women as a political strategy.  Previously, there was a lot of anecdotal evidence but no proper documentation was available in the aftermath of the election. Civil society organisations, including women’s groups were hesitant to talk publicly about politically motivated rape, even though survivors were seeking refuge in their organisations and their horror stories were known. The silence of the women’s groups muted the voices of the survivors; if well-established organisations were unwilling to speak on their behalf, who would listen to their individual voices? But as time went on the survivors of rape became bold, began speaking out about their experiences during the election period, and demanded to be heard and taken seriously.

The first public report on sexual violence in Zimbabwe during the election period was written by an American-based organisation, AidsFreeWorld, ‘Electing to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.’ This report was released in December 2009 and it was based on 70 affidavits collected from women who were survivors of rape and were living in South Africa and Botswana where they felt free to speak.  A second report was produced by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) in 2010, entitled, ‘No Hiding Place: Politically Motivated Rape of Women in Zimbabwe.’  In these two reports, women reported that they were repeatedly raped and beaten for their support of the MDC, whether perceived or real, as the perpetrators told them so during the ordeal. Some stated that this happened in front of their children and family members, and, as a result of the rape, their marriages broke down. Most of the women did not receive appropriate care for the trauma that they had experienced. The women exhibited high levels of sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, and hopelessness: symptoms, which are commonly associated with experiences of trauma.

These two reports gave credence to the claims that the women were making about politically-motivated sexual violence, and the issue could no longer be ignored.

The recently released findings of the Khampepe report supported what Zimbabwean organisations have been saying for the last 14 years, violence and intimidation are part and parcel of elections.  This report has implications for Zimbabwean women who lodged a case in 2012 in the South African courts with the support of AidsFreeWorld. The women brought their case to a South African court because they had failed to get any recourse in Zimbabwe. When they tried to report their cases to the police they were either turned away, told that the police were not dealing with political violence cases, or told by the police that they gor what they deserved. Sometimes the police outrightly  refused to open dockets, which effectively meant the women were unable to go for medical examinations.

AidsFreeWorld submitted an amicus brief to the South African courts after a case was brought by the Zimbabwean Exiles’ Forum and the Southern African Litigation Centre in 2008 on behalf of MDC supporters who alleged that they were tortured by ZANU PF supporters and state agents. On 30th October 2014, the Constitutional Court in South Africa ruled that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is obliged to investigate crimes against humanity “where the country in which the crimes occurred is unwilling or unable to investigate.” The ruling is based on the fact that South Africa is obliged to investigate because it signed and domesticated the Rome Statute on the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

This ruling has given hope to the Zimbabwean women who were brave enough to tell their stories. Unfortunately not all perpetrators will be brought to justice, but it sends the right message; that sexual violence will not be tolerated in any society for any reason.

Had the election report, which was compiled by the high court judges Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke, been released when it was compiled it is highly probable that 2008 might never have happened as a government of national unity could have been negotiated in 2002. The Kamphepe report supported other observers’ groups that stated that there was serious election violence and it would have added to international pressure to end the Zimbabwean crisis.

As we commemorate the 16 days of gender activism, there is hope that justice will be delivered and that the victims of election violence, particularly the victims of rape that have not been acknowledged will get the redress they deserve. Although their voices may have been largely silenced at home, they can get justice abroad-proving that justice is a universal principle and that no atrocity committed against another human being can be hidden forever.

Zimbabwe’s Macho Men: Sexualised Violence against Men by Men


Sexual violence is seldom about the sexual act itself but about power and humiliation regardless of whether it is performed against a woman or a man. It is acknowledged, but not well documented, that men suffer from sexual violence perpetrated by other men during conflict, be in armed conflict or low level political conflict as the Zimbabwe context.

Men and boys are reluctant to report sexual violence because of the stigma associated with it that makes it very difficult to accurately assess its scope, but, despite these challenges, a small study was undertaken to establish whether there are cases of politically motivated sexual violence in Zimbabwe, particularly in the last 12 years.  This report is based on the results of this study, which was done through the administration of a questionnaire prepared by RAU.

The study revealed interesting findings some of which are detailed below:

·         Men were uncomfortable and unwilling to speak about their own experiences with sexual violence, but more open when asked whether their wives were victims and the consequences of this;

·          Only one man admitted to being a perpetrator of sexual violence; he stated that he held down a victim while others raped her;

·         Almost all stated that women are affected differently by violence because of the physical differences of the sexes; men are much stronger than women and can withstand the violence;

·         They stated that sodomy, forced to have sexual intercourse either with a woman or another man, forced to gang rape women, having their genitalia touched, forced to strip in public and any indecent sexual act without consent were all forms of sexual violence than men can suffer;

·         The violence occurred either at a base or at home in front of other people.

Recommendations

·         Further research needs to be done on politically motivated sexual violence focusing on both male and female victims, looking at the prevalence and the effects.

·         Protection mechanisms need to be set up for victims of sexual violence to enable them to receive treatment and counseling in safe spaces.

For the full report please go to our website: www.researchandadvocacyunit.org

Prioritising education on the political agenda


The  “shocking pass rates” or should we say failure rates in the 2012 Ordinary level results are just a symptom of deep-rooted problems that have been developing in Zimbabwe’s education sector over the years. Reforming the education sector should be a top priority for any government or party that seriously wants to take charge of the echelons of power. This can be done by placing education at the core of their campaign strategy. The RAU reports (“Every School has a Story to Tell: A Study into Teachers’ Experiences with Elections in Zimbabwe” and “Political violence and intimidation against Teachers in Zimbabwe” available on the RAU website documented the crisis from the perspective of politically motivated attacks on teachers and the impact this violence has had on not only the teachers, but also on the economy, especially the increase in unemployment amongst the youths. RAU also looked at the impact of exposure to violence on school children when teachers were attacked in front of pupils.

In its recommendations RAU spear-headed a campaign to have schools declared as zones of peace z and for all political activities taking place at schools to be banned. The rationale behind this is that in times of major political events in Zimbabwe such as elections, considerable amount of learning time is lost as politicians seize schools and school facilities to coordinate their campaign meetings. At the height of violence in 2008, 94% of all schools in rural areas were shut down as teachers fled violence and therefore there was no point in parents sending their children to school. In most cases, teachers and pupils were forced to attend rallies and these were done during school hours. To demonstrate that these assertions are not just historical reporting, it is alleged that as we speak some schools in Manicaland and Mashonaland East have been forced to give offices to militias or ‘war veterans so that they can coordinate their activities ahead of elections. This alone constitutes an attack on education and only a political directive can rectify that. The rationale of peace zones is derived from war situations where there is an agreement not to physically attack institutions of learning as well as medical facilities. Zimbabwe is not in a war situation, but the political situation during elections has in the past resembled ‘war’, where violence has been used as a political tool. By declaring schools as zones of peace, this allows children to continue attending school without hindrance; and protects teachers from attacks from political elements. Anything that has a negative bearing on education such as attacks on teachers is considered an attack on education. Any acts that affect the smooth running of schools/education should become punishable offences. In that light, the adoption of the new Constitution which explicitly guarantees education as a right compels government to legislate supporting laws that enable the right to be enjoyed by every child in Zimbabwe.

It is important for the Ministry of Education to carry out empirical studies on the impact of conflict on the education sector and measures to address these. Special attention should be given to solving the problems created for children due to the conflict, like mental stress, exposure to violence and displacement, by incorporating different programs of reconciliation, mutual goodwill and peace in education programs.  The link between education, peace and development is evident from the period when Zimbabwe emerged from colonial government to majority rule. At that time, education played a pivotal role in building a human capital base that is still revered throughout the world. The same period was also marked by peace and development.

While there are many factors that have contributed to the crisis in education including the decrease in donor support for education, violence is a single factor that does not require funding to change the overall outlook. It requires political will, a community shared vision that education is at the centre of communities moving from abject poverty to emancipation and that every child must be protected and supported through provision of safe schools that allow the mind to positively grow.

By declaring schools as zones of peace, the state will be taking bold steps towards redressing issues to do with community security and violence in the communities, especially violence targeting women and young girls. The campaign will ensure that the future of Zimbabwe; the youths, are not engaged in violence largely caused by idle minds as a result of a failing education system.

What is Election Violence?


This seems a rather stupid question to ask, and especially in Zimbabwe where we talk about this endlessly. However, this is not a trivial question, and we remember 2008 and 2002 more clearly than we do 2005. Simply put, is the killing, beating, and raping of citizens worse from the point of elections than the threatening, terrifying, and starving of the them? It all depends on the purpose and the consequence.

 

If the consequence is to change the result of the vote and hence who governs, then surely both are equivalent as regards the final result: that those who use either strategy subvert the real purpose of elections? Which is what? Surely that the citizens can ensure, freely, that those that govern have the mandate to govern?

 

So, we need to be very clear, when we talk about elections, and we talk about election violence, that we are clear about what this is. So, when killing, beating, and raping do not happen, but threatening, terrifying, and starving does, we are certain that election violence still happened. We need no repeats of 2008 and 2002, or  even 2005!

 

So what do we mean when we talk about election violence? Consider this definition:

 

…Acts or threats of coercion, intimidation, or physical harm perpetrated to affect an

electoral process or that arises in the context of electoral competition. When

perpetrated to affect an electoral process, violence may be employed to influence the process of elections – such as efforts to delay, disrupt, or derail a poll – and to influence the outcomes: the determining of winners in competitive races for political office or to secure approval or disapproval of referendum questions.

 

As Timothy Sisk points out above this is considerably broader than the presence of physical violence: it is the range of activities aimed at subverting the will of ordinary citizens to freely exercise their choice[1].

 

Electoral violence is a sub-type of political violence in which actors employ coercion in an

instrumental way to advance their interests or achieve specific political ends. Similarly,

societies prone to experiencing election-related violence are normally vulnerable to

broader kinds of political violence; Kosovo, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, or

Colombia are examples of instances in which electoral violence is embedded in a

broader, often ongoing context of deep-rooted social conflict.

 

Electoral violence includes acts, such as assassination of opponents or spontaneous

fisticuffs between rival groups of supporters and threats, coercion, and intimidation of

opponents, voters, or election officials. Threat and intimidation is a form of coercion

that is just as powerful as acts of violence can be. Indeed, one purpose of acts of

terrorism such as tossing a grenade into a crowd of rival supporters is an act

diabolically designed to induce fear and to intimidate (e.g., to suppress mobilization or

voting by that group).

 

Violent acts can be targeted against people or things, such as the targeting of

communities or candidates or the deliberate destruction of campaign materials, vehicles,

offices, or ballot boxes.

 

Electoral violence is more than just physical violence: it is the purpose behind violence, and the oscillation between physical violence and psychological violence that enable us to understand this purpose in Zimbabwe. The results of the elections in 2005 can only be understood in the context of the violence of 2002 and 2008. That 2005 was less violent than the two previous elections is not really the point, and it would be useful here if the South African Government would stop contesting the release of the Khampepe/Moseneke report: we could then see the nexus between 2000/2002 and 2005.

 

And, just maybe, SADC would own up to the Principles that it promulgated so piously in 2005, and start to insist that the GPA required constitutional change and reform, then elections, rather than accepting the weak compromise offered by the GNU of constitutional change, then elections and reform. Then maybe the SADC Treaty would be a real, substantive document as opposed to a loose-leaf folder from which pages are removed whenever they are inconvenient! And they are especially inconvenient when elections (and sometimes courts and court decisions) leave the members in potential conflict with each other over who has the right to rule.


[1] Sisk, T. D, Elections in Fragile States: Between Voice and Violence. Paper Prepared for The International Studies Association Annual Meeting. San Francisco, California. March 24-28, 2008.

Politically motivated violence against women in Zimbabwe


With the breaking of the news about the AidsFree World submission of a dossier on politically motivated rape to the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa, it is worth remembering that political violence against women is an unfortunate feature of the electoral landscape in Zimbabwe. It is also worth remembering that this is not merely a matter for history. Simultaneous to the reporting to the AidsFree World action was a report of the arson attack on the Maisiri home in Headlands (and the murder of 12 year old Christpower Maisiri), and the revelation that his mother too had been victim of political rape by Lovemore Manenji in 2008.

RAU, and its various partners, have been raising the spectre of politically motivated violence against women even prior to the 2008 elections, and thus it was gratifying to see the issue being given a national profile last year through the Women and Peace Conference, organized by Musasa, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, HIVOS, and UN Women. There were strong commitments by Government Ministers, UN agencies, international NGOs, and local women’s organisations to stop political violence, sexual violence, and rape of women.

The issue was raised again in 2013 on Valentine’s Day under the umbrella of the One Billion Rising initiative, where women from all walks of life came together at the National Gallery to dance their commitment to ending violence against women.

RAU therefore wishes to draw your attention to the research of several years on the issue of political motivated violence and intimidation of women. Below are a selection of reports that can be obtained by following the links, but other reports can be found on the RAU website:

www.researchandadvocacyunit.org

RAU (2010), Women, Politics and the Zimbabwe Crisis, Report produced by Idasa (An African Democracy Institute), the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), and the Womens’ Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ). May 2010. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=54&Itemid=90]

RAU (2010), Preying on the “Weaker” Sex: Political Violence against Women in Zimbabwe. Report produced by IDASA (An African Democracy Institute), the International Center for Transitional Justice [ICTJ] and the Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU].  November 2010. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=96&Itemid=90]

RAU (2010), “When the going gets tough the man gets going!” Zimbabwean Women’s views on Politics, Governance, Political Violence, and Transitional Justice. Report produced by the Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU], Idasa [Institute for Democracy in Africa], and the International Center for Transitional Justice [ICTJ]. November 2010. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=54&Itemid=90]

 RAU (2010), No Hiding Place. Politically Motivated Rape of Women in Zimbabwe. Report prepared by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR). December 2010. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=170&Itemid=90]

RAU (2011), Women and Law Enforcement in Zimbabwe. Report produced by IDASA (An African Democracy Institute), and the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU). March 2011, HARARE:RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

 

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=97&Itemid=90]

 

RAU (2011), Politically Motivated Rape in Zimbabwe. Report produced for the Women’s Programme of the Research and Advocacy Unit. May 2011. HARARE:RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=102&Itemid=90]

RAU (2011), Women and Political Violence: An Update. July 2011. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=54&Itemid=90]

Elections yet again


There is an inevitable sense of trepidation when elections start to loom in Zimbabwe, especially since 2000. All too often it feels that we merely repeat the same cycle without any evidence of learning from the mistakes of the past. It is for this reason that it is very important to carefully examine the past, and, to this end, RAU would like to emphasize some of its own findings from past elections, particularly 2008.

2008 is important because there were two elections in very quick succession. The first, in March 2008, was very peaceful and well-administered up to the point of the count, when things went very wrong. The second was hardly peaceful and probably the most violent election ever in Zimbabwe, though many have forgotten just how violent the 2002 Presidential election was.

Below are links to a selection or reports that RAU feels are useful guides to thinking about 2013. Other reports can be found on the RAU website which is: www.researchandadvocacyunit.org

An edited selection of the more important reports was produced by Derek Matyszak for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and this can be found by following the link immediately below:

Matyszak, D.A (2010), Law, Politics, and Zimbabwe’s ‘Unity’ Government, KONRAD ADENAUER STIFTUNG in association with the Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU].

[http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_21234-1522-1-30.pdf?101124145357]

In addition to this compendium are a number of other useful reports, some talking about the violence, others dealing with the electoral irregularities, and others dealing with the setting up the GPA:

Kwinjeh. G (2008), Staring a gift horse in the mouth. Death Spiral in Zimbabwe: Mediation, Violence and the GNU. 18 June 2008.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=134&Itemid=90]

Pigou, P (2008), Defining Violation: Political Violence or Crimes Against Humanity. June 2008. SITO: IDASA.

[http://www.idasa.org/our_products/resources/output/how_to_lose_an_election_and/?pid=states_in_transition]

Matyszak, D. (2008), How to lose an election and stay in power. June 2008. RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.idasa.org/our_products/resources/output/how_to_lose_an_election_and/?pid=states_in_transition]

Matyszak. D. (2008), Opinion on the legality of the presidential election which took place in Zimbabwe on June 27th 2009, and the legitimacy of any incumbent assuming office on the basis of the result of such an election. SITO: IDASA.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=134&Itemid=90]

RAU (2009), Hear no Evil, See no evil, Speak no evil: A critique of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission report on the 2008 General Elections. Report produced by Derek Matyszak (Senior Researcher). July 2009. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=134&Itemid=90]

RAU (2009), 2013 Vision – Seeing Double and the Dead. A preliminary Audit of Zimbabwe’s Voters’ Roll. Derek Matyszak. September 2009. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=134&Itemid=90]