Geneva, 1st October 2004
2000, 9 to 11 March 2002 and 12 March to 10 June 2002 (Annex 2). The statistics demonstrate, first, that in the three periods the MDC did not resort to more violence than ZANU-PF. The contrary was the case. For the three periods taken together, the MDC accounted for 417 cases as opposed to 784 ZANU-PF cases. During the first period which covers the year 2000, violence attributed to the MDC was even less than half of that attributed to ZANU-PF (605 ZANU-PF cases involving 793 counts as opposed to 283 MDC cases involving 323 counts). The statistics also demonstrate that MDC members were at a higher risk of arrest than ZANU-PF members: during the first period 338 ZANU-PF members were arrested (for 605 cases/793 counts) while 337 MDC members were arrested (for 283 cases/323 counts). The disproportion between cases and arrests is even more startling for the second period covering the three days of the presidential election: while police made 38 arrests of ZANU-PF members for 20 cases and 35 counts, it made 119 arrests of MDC members for 35 cases and 39 counts. Likewise, while in the first period 131 cases of public violence were attributed to ZANU‑PF and 68 to the MDC, only 62 ZANU-PF arrests were made as opposed to 116 for the MDC. During the three periods taken together, a total of 417 cases were attributed to the MDC and 645 arrests of MDC members or leaders were made, while 784 cases were attributed to ZANU-PF and the same number, 645, of ZANU-PF members were arrested. In short, the MDC had less cases but more arrests and the ZANU-PF had more cases but less arrests.
4.Prospects for a political dialogue
The authorities generally suggested that the situation had improved since 2002 as had prospects for political tolerance.
In his introductory remarks, the Speaker stated that with the coming of the MDC which had won 57 of the 120 elected seats in the Parliament of Zimbabwe in the 2000 elections, for the first time there was a real opposition5. Likewise, the Government Chief Whip stated that at the time of independence, there had been no significant opposition in Parliament. In 2000, however, a near-balance had been established between the majority and the opposition, which had come as a shock to the Government. In his views, some incidents occurred because of the “excitement of certain institutions”. The Commissioner of Police, for his part, stated that the MDC was not the first opposition party in the country and that there had been many parties ever since 1980. The only difference was that the opposition now had more representatives in Parliament and was violent.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the atmosphere had changed because the land had been distributed. The battle was over and there was nothing more to fight. The task now was to make the land productive, to correct errors which had been inevitable with the distribution of 11 million ha of land in three years, President Mugabe had therefore set up a commission to look into complaints of arbitrary land distribution. In Parliament, majority and opposition representatives met in a convivial atmosphere, and “we look forward to the elections next year which will not be as crucial as the 2002 elections”.
Likewise, the Minister of Justice declared that “shouting at each other in Parliament” had promoted greater mutual understanding.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Sibanda, said that there was no tradition of a parliamentary opposition and pointed out that the official role of leader of the opposition had only been recognised after 2002. Other MPs expressed the view that ZANU-PF was intent on dealing with the MDC as they had dealt with ZAPU, making the opposition simply disappear by merging it into ZANU.
Minister Chinamasa informed the delegation that a process of dialogue had started in 2002. He himself had held informal talks with MDC Secretary General, Prof. Welshman Ncube. However, the talks had been broken off because, he said, the MDC was not interested in genuine dialogue. Last year he had been mandated to renew informal contacts with Prof. Ncube and since March 2003, they had held about 70 meetings. The aim of the talks was to find common values and to share a common vision on issues such as the liberation struggle, foreign interference, democracy etc. According to him, the talks went well, albeit
5 In the outgoing Parliament, ZANU had held 147 of the 150 seats (120 elected and 30 appointed by the President).