'Talk' of 2011 elections sparks violence

'Talk' of possible elections in 2011 by the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai have sparked violence and intimidation in Marambapfungwe, a politically volatile area in the Mashonaland East province.

Reports received from Mr. Chengetai Chimunhu, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC- T) District Chairman for Marambapfungwe are that ZANU PF has re-launched 'Operation Surrender' originally launched during the run-up to the June 2008 election as a strategy to arm-twist MDC supporters into supporting ZANU PF.   The operation, re-launched soon after Mugabe and Tsvangirai announced the possible holding of elections in 2011, allegedly involves training of youths at designated bases and unleashing of violence on villagers.

Speaking to The Catalyst, Mr. Chimunhu said that youths in Marambapfungwe (including those who do not subscribe to ZANU PF's ideology) are forced to go for training, usually on Friday and Saturday evenings. It is also alleged that in these camps, youths are exposed to ill-treatment, particularly females who are often sexually abused.

Below is a table of bases allegedly set up in Marambapfungwe;

BASE                                                                                                                 TRAINERS                                                                                       POSITION
Kanzire road turn off, Museka school (ward 3)     Dero Masenda                                                                           ZANU PF District youth official
Mark Nyabani                                                                               War veteran
Samba Makanda                                                                       War veteran

Patsika primary school (ward 3)                                           Kamutomasi   Kamutomasi                                               War veteran
Reuben Nyathi                                                                              ZANU PF district official

Dindi primary school (ward 4)                                                 Fadzanai Jaka                                                                                 ZANU PF district official
Chris Gunduza                                                                               War veteran
Dungu Marahwe  
Chipokoteke primary school (ward 2)                           Tatira Katsamudanga
Biggie Matsimhu
Rosemary Pfukwa                                                                       ZANU PF District chairperson

Mungari primary school (ward 4)                                         Stephen Tandika
Kachidza Clifford                                                                            ZANU PF councillor- Ward 4
Joseph Chaparapata

The cases of intimation have been on the rise ahead of the constitution outreach meetings scheduled to commence at the end of May 2010.

Other cases of intimidation reported in Marambapfungwe are as follows;
€¢  On the 21st of April 2010, Amos Chabayanzara of Ward 4 was forced by ZANU PF supporters to divorce his wife because she is believed to be a strong MDC supporter.
€¢  Some village headmen have allegedly been stripped of their titles owing to their perceived political affiliations. This has resulted in the destruction of family fabrics as the headmen are replaced by their siblings. These include; Chiwenga Mutekete who was replaced by Bvumbu Mutekete; Oneas Mutate who was replaced by Edward Mutate and Abraham Nyathi who was replaced by Vhu Nyathi.

Police are allegedly ignoring reports submitted by victims resulting in increased intimidation and harassments. Fears are rife of an escalation in cases of politically motivated violence after the World Cup billed to take place in South Africa from the 10th of June 2010. The matter has been reported to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC).

Commenting on the increase in cases of intolerance, politically motivated violence and intimidation, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe highlighted that they have received worrying reports specifically from Muzarabani, Shamva and Bindura in Mashonaland Central of cases of violence where close to 30 families have allegedly been displaced as a result of perpetual intimidation. This, according to ROHR is aimed at frustrating people into inactivity and repelling them from participating in key political processes including the constitution making process and envisaged elections.

'Signatories to the Inter-party Political Agreement (IPA) agreed that following the signing of the agreement, there would be free political activity but they are not walking the talk. ZANU PF is encouraging supporters to engage in violent activities as a strategy to maintain their hold on power. The police have capacity to quell violent activities as evidenced by their response, although delayed, to the Muzarabani case where they helped re-integrate displaced families into their communities. The problem is they are partisan and get commands from political players. In Mashonaland Central, for example, Provincial Governor and Resident Minister, Advocate Martin Dinha gave a directive to the police to ignore any disturbances caused by ZANU PF in the area,' said an official from ROHR.  

The Catalyst is reliably informed that JOMIC was in Muzarabani yesterday, 06 May 2010 investigating cases of political violence reported over the past month, although outcomes of the investigations remain unknown. The committee is in Shamva today, where they are also carrying out investigations into cases of political violence.

It is The Coalition's strong contention that the police should fulfil their constitutional mandate of maintaining law and order in the country and providing security to the citizenry. The constant use of JOMIC in dealing with such disturbances is tantamount to normalising the abnormal and seeks to entrench and justify the use of violence against innocent civilians. Violence is criminal and criminals should be arrested and prosecuted.


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