Opposition parties and non-governmental organizations fear bloody and disputed polls as the country continues to witness a surge in politically motivated violence.
This, coupled with a shrinking civic space, is seen as a tactic being used by the government to frustrate the opposition parties.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), an NGO that monitors human rights violations, said the ruling party and the government were squeezing the democratic space ahead of the elections between July and August to increase its chances of winning.
“Law enforcement agents and the ruling party continue to subject Zimbabwe citizens to gross human rights violations,” the ZPP said in its latest monitoring report.
“Zanu-PF activists are systematically closing space for political pluralism, making it difficult for opposition supporters to attend and conduct their meetings. Citizens, mostly from rural communities, are being barred and banned from attending opposition meetings and, in most cases, forced or coerced to attend ruling party meetings. As the elections draw near, there is a rise of infringements on citizens’ rights,” the report said.
ZPP said some of the violations included ZanuPF activists forcing people in rural areas to submit their national identity documents, which was a way of intimidating potential voters to join the ruling party.
“Political intolerance has reached high levels, and the tense environment has the potential to brew more violence and electoral malpractices in the coming months,” it added.
Meanwhile, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), says police have banned 63 of its campaign meetings this year for unclear reasons.
Senior CCC member, David Coltart accused Zanu-PF of stifling the opposition party as its rallies continue to be blocked.
“It’s clear that ZanuPF has banned CCC. Our structures have been applied to have meetings throughout Zimbabwe and every trick in the book is used to prevent these meetings from taking place. Even when we have private meetings people are arrested,” he said.