MDC-T Supporters' Houses Burnt in Chimanimani

Chimanimani- In suspected politically motivated violence, seven houses belonging to 3 households were burnt and several people beaten up by suspected but unidentified ZANU (PF) thugs in Chimanimani East's Cashel Nyambeya Village in Ward 1. The dreadful attack took place on the night of 1 May, 2011 in the district whose Member of Parliament is Samuel Undenge (Zanu (PF)).

Youth Forum's Chimanimani District Chairperson, Pardon Maguta, reports that 15 to 20 thugs chanting ZANU (PF) slogans and singing revolutionary songs praising the party attacked the houses at around midnight. The attackers demanded to know why members of these households had attended the Movement for Democratic Change congress that was held in Bulawayo. The houses attacked belonged to Moses Chemwanyisa, Admire Chizikani and his mother, Naomi Chizikani who is also a widow.

The occupants of the houses, who were mainly women and children, screamed for help but no one came to their rescue as the brutality and mercilessness of ZANU (PF) and state sponsored thugs is well documented and still fresh in the minds of the village dwellers after the June 2008 violence. The same people were also victimized by ZANU PF youths in March 2011 and had to seek refugee with relatives in Mutare after the police failed or decided not to deal with the culprits. This time the targets were not so lucky as the assailants attacked around midnight and burnt the houses and attacked the occupants, several of whom had to be hospitalized after suffering serious injuries.

The incident has since been reported to Cashel Police Station and efforts to get comments from the police were futile as Youth Forum officers were turned away at the gate. These incidents fly in the face of reports by the police that claim the MDC is topping the violence record. It is mind-boggling how the law enforcement agents decide to document alleged MDC-T intra-party violence when the MDC-T is almost always at the receiving end of politically motivated violence. Myriads of reports of attacks on MDC-T supporters are awash in several police camps while other victims are turned away and the police do not find it necessary to release these.

The Youth Forum calls upon the negotiators dealing with the roadmap to elections to come up with a clause that deals decisively with perpetrators of violence and mechanisms to make sure such agreements are implemented fully. The country is bracing for elections and for these to be free and fair, the playing field must be level not only in the run up to elections, but well before the elections are announced. If the current violence goes unchecked, people will not turn out to vote fearing for their lives. ZANU (PF) leaders must come out clear and denounce the violence, the Global Political Agreement recognizes the importance of free political activity and the Freedom of Assembly and Association and honestly, party leaders must not send thugs to beat people because their relatives have attended other parties' congresses. ZANU (PF) held their congress a few months ago in the same province and no other political party attacked them. Political tolerance is vital for free and fair elections.


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