THE ruling Zanu PF party has upped the ante as it reportedly intimidates villagers to attend its weekly campaign meetings, warning that an attendance register will be used to punish those who boycott.
NewsDay has established that an attendance register is marked during every meeting and an audio doing the rounds on social media seems to confirm this.
In the audio, the voice of a suspected Zanu PF official is heard sternly threatening villagers in what is believed to be somewhere in Manicaland province.
The Zanu PF official claimed that villagers are already being monitored and spied on by security officials deployed in their wards ahead of the elections.
On election day, the official said, villagers will vote according to their cell registers, in what may turn out to be one of the biggest electoral violation in Zimbabwe’s history.
“We have a cell register which will be used on election day,” he is heard saying, amid mumbles of disgruntlement in the background.
“I am urging that if you are not available to attend our meetings on a particular day, you should go and report to your cell chair to give notice. If you don’t attend our meetings, you will pay a fine of a goat.
“On election day, the cell chair will lead the process. The cell chair, who has all the names of the cell, will tick the register as we vote. This election will be different from the previous ones, where you would go straight to vote with a national identity card. This time, you will go straight to your cell chairperson who will give you permission to go to vote.”
He adds: “There are many people who are monitoring you and you don’t know some of them. I think you were told that we have two election dates; August 23 and October 2, if there is re-run, you might taken from your home and be killed.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa dismissed the reports and audio as part of a sponsored smear campaign against the ruling party.
“There have been a lot of people who have been planted to smear Zanu PF. Look at the numbers attending our rallies, no one have been forced to attend.
“There are people who have infiltrated our party and are trying to smear our party,” he told NewsDay yesterday.
“People who feel victimised should report to the police, people are protected by law of the land. Police are there for law and order and those who feel infringed should report to police.”
Analysts yesterday pleaded with political parties to observe peace before, during and after the elections to ensure the polls are not disputed.
“There is a need for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to look into this issue in line with its mandate to stop the electoral malpractice and for political parties to adhere to the electoral code of conduct,” analyst Vivid Gwede said.
“Police must also play their part to ensure perpetrators of violence are brought to book.”
Another political analyst Sydicks Muradzikwa called on Zanu PF leaders to lead from the front in campaigning for peace.
“Any public utterance by the centre becomes a policy position. Violence has been unleashed at the rallies by the Executive through the word of mouth. How many times has President Emmerson Mnangagwa mentioned the word kurakasha (assault the opposition)?” he said.
Meanwhile, police yesterday said they had launched an investigation into a case in which Environment and Tourism deputy minister Barbra Rwodzi is accused of intimidating a police officer for arresting and opening a docket against a Zanu PF supporter who defaced opposition candidate campaign posters in Chirumanzu.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has taken note of an audio circulating on social media concerning the incident involving some ZRP Charandura members allegedly with the deputy minister of Tourism and Environment … The case is now under investigation,” police said.
In the audio, Rwodzi, who is the Zanu PF legislator for Chirumanzu South constituency, was recorded insulting a senior police officer, who was preparing a docket against a Zanu PF supporter, only known as Danger.
The supporter is also believed to be part of Rwodzi’s campaign team and was reported for allegedly tearing down CCC posters in the constituency.
In a three and half minute audio that has since gone viral on social media, Rwodzi is heard calling Assistant Inspector Matsa, based at Charandura Police Station, a “stupid idiot”.