Days after the skirmishes that rocked Harare following violent- demonstrations, the CNN, BBC and Aljazeera carried reports that the army was assaulting residents in Chitungwiza, Highfield, Dzivarasekwa amongst others. In separate interviews Chief Executive Officers of all referral hospitals in the Harare Metropolitan Province indicated that numbers of aggravated assault remain constant within their institutions.
While numbers of casualties increased following the Harare City Centre clashes of August the 1st, Parirenyatwa Group of hospitals Group Chief Executive Doctor Thomas Arnold Zigora said the hospital had not further received more increases in the period after that.
“Parirenyatwa is probably the major referral hospital in Harare and we receive many assault cases over weekends and holidays. As head of this institution, I am not aware of cases that could be attributed to assault by the armed forces, cases we have fall within the range.”
Probably the largest referral hospital for the low-income group, Harare Central Hospital have consistent assault casualties’ figures before and after elections. Chief Executive Officer, Doctor Nyasha Masuka said for the week beginning July 19 to 26, the hospital attended to twenty-seven assault cases while between July 26 to 31 they treated twenty-five assault cases. Dr. Masuka admits there was a sharp increase of casualties attributable to the skirmishes in the CBD of the City of Harare on August 1st but these almost immediately went down subsequently to twenty-four, in the period beginning August the 3rd. “The trends have not changed in terms of assault cases we attend to at this institution” said Dr. Masuka.
Another Harare Metropolitan Province referral hospital, Chitungwiza Hospital had a similar story of not recording a rise in the number of assault casualties that could suggest a crackdown on residents. Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Obadiah Moyo explained, “During the period of the skirmishes, yes there were cases, but after that there are no cases at the hospital as reported, no one is admitted at the hospital as a result of being bashed by the forces, you are free to check like others did yesterday.”
We put it to Dr. Obadiah Moyo that some had questioned his credibility as a source since he participated on a ZANU PF ticket in the harmonized polls to which he unequivocally answered that given his professional standing he had a reputation to protect.
Various social media, local and foreign media organizations and human rights groups ran unsubstantiated reports purporting that members of military were conducting a crackdown on members of the opposition.
All circulated pictures are close-ups and mostly anonymous raising that they could be and however absence of authentic pictures of the mad been residential areas; them bashing residents nor there being residents seeking treatment at metropolitan referral hospitals, many have questioned the authenticity, if not the agenda, for the seemingly unfounded allegations.