By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — ESCALATING violence attributed to succession battles in the ruling party and the main opposition is diminishing prospects of credible elections in Zimbabwe.
The Southern African country is gearing for watershed polls in July with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) tormented by factionalism.
Bickering characterises ZANU-PF in the wake of alleged persecution of a faction aligned to former president, Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a military coup and succeeded by Emmerson Mnangagwa last November.
The death of MDC leader and former Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, from cancer in February has also plunged the party into a succession crisis that degenerated into violence and another split.
Nelson Chamisa has gained control ahead of Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khuphe. All three were joint deputies to Tsvangirai.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said upheavals in the rival parties coincided with increased human rights violations ahead of polls.
ZPP documented 245 violations in January but the figure dropped to 176 in February.
The violations increased to 188 in February.
Over the three months, 14 intra-party violations were recorded for MDC and 27 for ZANU- PF
ZPP fingered ZANU-PF as the main violator in inter-party violations, followed by police and war veterans, both accused of patronage to the ruling party. The army is also implicated after accusations of persecuting members of Mugabe’s faction.
MDC is implicated in fewer cases.
ZPP pledged to engage government, political parties, electoral authorities and police to ensure peaceful elections.