Fear spreads among Bikita residents amidst allegations of violence incitement by ZANU-PF members

Innocent Muraiwa

Tensions rise within Bikita district as residents find themselves caught in a web of fear amidst claims of violence being incited by members of the ruling political party, ZANU-PF. The recent developments have left the community on edge, seeking answers while local authorities work towards restoring peace and tranquility.

According to eyewitnesses, the alleged incitement of violence has sparked a climate of uncertainty and unease among residents of Bikita. Speaking in an interview with this reporter CCC Councilor for Ward 32, Zvidzai Makotore condemned such acts while advising electorates not to accept intimidation.

“People are being terrorised by ZANU-PF members and they are forced to produce evidence of whether they have voted for the ruling party or turned down their hopes. Such an act is undermining the rights of the people, it is not in tangent with the co-existing constitution.

“We encourage people not to be put under the armpits of fear by any other party that might come with unfair acts which tend to promote a threatening election environment. Voting for someone is done by choice of an individual not by force, if that occurs, it is no longer a democracy,” he said.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 21 states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

The allegations primarily point towards certain ZANU-PF members who have allegedly been orchestrating the incitement of violence within the community. Speculations suggest that the motive behind these actions may lie in political differences and power struggles ahead of the upcoming elections. 

Tarisai (not his real name) a resident from Ward 32 said explained the events that have taken place in his area.

“…the members of ZANU-PF flock in numbers and cultivate fear in people. They further caution people that if they do not vote for the ruling party, they will face unspecified punishment. Instead of doing free and fair campaigns, the ZANU-PF members are now violating the rights of the citizens. We are even forced to attend some rallies at different places. The election environment is no longer safe, it is now a hard terrain,” he said.

A CCC polling agent who pleaded for anonymity due to fear of victimization revealed that the residents are being intimidated to make sure that everyone voted for the ruling party.

“The ZANU-PF team is petrifying people in the villages of ward 32, a move that has been long adopted to forcefully take control of power. The situation became difficult when some village heads were asked to play a role in the mobilisation process. They were told that if they do not do the mobilisation task so that people can vote for the ruling ZANU-PF party, they will be demoted from their positions.

“We are visiting villagers in ward 32 from household to household so that we assure them to be free and vigilant during the election environment. We are urging them to keep their votes private in order to avoid unpredictable violence. We need a peaceful election environment that does not harm people’s rights,” said the CCC polling agent.

Masvingo Provincial Spokesperson for CCC, Jefferson Chitando also voiced the issue by saying that there is a need to maintain a peaceful environment as we head towards elections.

“Legally, it is not correct to enter a polling station with a cellphone, ZANU-PF is trying to legalize things that are not legal. We want people to vote freely by choosing leaders of their choice without any form of victimization. If ZANU-PF thinks that this will be the way that will make it win the victory, it will be lying to itself, people are cleverer than ZANU-PF and FAZ who are envious of our good campaigning roadmap,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with this reporter the ZANU-PF member, Callisto Mazhambe, denied the allegations saying his party is not involved in anything of that sort.

“We did not do anything that infringes on people’s right to vote. All that is being said is just a speculation that tends to backslide our campaigning agenda,” he said.

Meanwhile, the members of Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ) have accused the opposition party CCC of tearing posters that they have put up for the pursuit of their campaigns.

“The members of CCC have developed a bad habit of back-biting some ways of spearheading our campaigns through tearing off the posters which we have put in every place for mobilisation’s sake. The CCC members should cease disturbing the flow of our campaigns, we need a free political environment that does not harm each other,” said FAZ member Tawanda Chikaura.

ZANU-PF Masvingo Provincial Spokesperson, Pepukai Chiwewe also denied the allegations leveled against his party by stating that their mandate is maintaining peace during and after the elections.

“Our supporters have gone through serious ideological training so they do not even need to use any gadget because they have been trained to uphold the core values of ZANU-PF wherever they go. So they do not need anyone to monitor them.

“The issue of intimidating is a fabricated thing. There is no reason for intimidating opponents rather the opposition members are flogging the ZANU-PF members, frustrating their campaigns which is not fair. His Excellence Honourable CDE Emerson Mnangagwa wants a fair and free election process, all those negative sayings about the ruling ZANU-PF party are not true. ZANU-PF is a peaceful party that is not warlike.”

In the wake of these escalating tensions, various civil society groups and human rights organizations have also raised their concerns. They call upon political players to ensure that their members uphold the principles of peace and refrain from inciting violence. The collective efforts of these organizations aim to foster a peaceful environment where residents can exercise their democratic rights without fear.

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