War Vets' Leader Besieges Marange before Referendum

MARANGE - A local non-governmental organisation, Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) has reported that War Veterans' leader, Jabulani Sibanda was recently in Marange on a suspected coercion campaign ahead of the referendum and harmonized elections expected in 2013.

The self-styled commandant of former guerilla fighters, who has crisscrossed the countryside over the past two years, is said to have rallied local war veterans and is staging compulsory meetings with villagers, telling them to vote for Zanu-PF in the next elections.

Sibanda is said to have whipped local traditional leaders into line for his cause, making the recent reports corroborate what has been reported before as the style of his campaign, also believed to be bent on reviving memories of the June 2008 presidential run-off election terror and violence.

"Traditional leaders have been 'advised' to rid Marange of MDC-T supporters. In response to Jabulani's call, traditional leaders are charging the community a goat for attending MDC-T meetings, or wearing MDC-T regalia, € said the Chiadzwa-based organisation's reported in their latest local news bulletin, Marange News.

"Jabulani Sibanda is taking a register of all children or youth born between 1977 and 2000.   No one knows what he is doing with the names since he is not an authority. €

"They (the local war veterans) are 'warning' the community that if they sell the country, the blood shed is going to be worse than the June 2008 presidential election run off, € CCDT said.



MDC-T Mutare West MP Hon. Shuah Mudiwa and CCDT coordinator, Melanie Chiponda confirmed that Sibanda had held a meeting near Marange Police station at an area called Bambazonke in February, although his current location could not be ascertained.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson and Bulawayo Agenda Director Thabani Nyoni said:

"As civil society, we are beginning to feel that the peace rhetoric by ZANU PF and other political parties is nothing more than lip-service.   Nothing on the ground suggests that they are willing to prevent politically motivated violence, judging by the actions of some of their charges.

"Structures, instruments, institutions and advocates of politically motivated violence and hate speech have increased in frequency and intensity as we draw closer to the expected elections. We ask SADC and the International community to take our red flags seriously before they become accomplices to the violent electoral process again. €

In a sign that Sibanda's presence may be an ominous sign, it is reported that misunderstandings had recently started brewing in the communal lands of Marange, which is in Zimbabwe's eastern province of Manicaland.

A traditional leader in the area reportedly ordered that a deceased villager, Gegege Masibera, whom he argued was an MDC-T supporter, not be buried in the village, though the decisionwas successfully contradicted by the leader's son, Ticha Muchisi in late February 2013.

Muchisi, perhaps fearing the aftermath of Sibanda's current trail blazing also contradicted his father and ordered the traditional leader to return the goats, confiscated from MDC-T supporters, the reports said.

Prior reports said that Sibanda had camped in Masvingo for almost one year until June 2011, where he was reportedly shooed away after Zanu-PF factions clashed over his campaign methods. Sibanda relocated to Hurungwe in Mashonaland West and Mubaira Growth Point in Mhondoro in 2012.

The ex-Combatant's flag bearer then relocated to Nyanga in Manicaland where he visited Ruwanga Growth Point and Nyarukowa Business Centre among other areas in 2012. He proceeded to Musikavanhu in Chipinge in January 2013 and Marange where he visited Bambazonke in February 2013.

In these different areas, Sibanda is alleged to have spewed hate speech against MDC-T supporters and threatened those who vote against Zanu-PF, with death.

In addition, Sibanda is also said to have as part of his campaign DNA , forced traditional leaders, war veterans, civil servants and villagers to attend his meetings.

There have been calls from various stakeholders, including civil society for the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to investigate Sibanda's activities. On Wednesday March 13, 2013, the Crisis Report spoke to JOMIC Communications Manager Jorum Nyathi who said:

"Threatening people is a crime according to Zimbabwean law and that must be reported to the police. As JOMIC we are going across the country, encouraging people on a daily basis to uphold peace in the country and the GPA Principals have also been preaching peace and non-violence. €

However, Nyathi could not be drawn into commenting on the specific issue of the War Veterans' leader, who is said to be spreading fear ahead of the important elections.

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