Villagers in Gokwe South are complaining over alleged intimidation, harassment and threats of violence by Zanu PF activists and traditional leaders in the area ahead of next month’s general elections.
According to villagers, a Zanu PF activist, Betsero Marazani, is allegedly leading the intimidation while threatening that soldiers would be unleashed on the five constituencies that make up Gokwe South if Zanu PF loses the election.
Headman Chisina, Alfias Gumbero, is alleged to have read the riot act to his lieutenants who do not coerce their subjects into voting for the ruling party.
“Marazani is a Zanu PF provincial member and is allegedly using his influence to move around the constituencies threatening voters with unspecified action if they don’t vote for Zanu PF,” said a villager from Mazalayedzwa in Gokwe Mafungabutsi constituency.
“Our village heads were also threatened by Headman Chisina that he would strip them of their titles if they don’t support Zanu PF in the elections.’
Meanwhile, villagers in Gokwe Sesame say their village head Marshal Time of Nemangwe was like a campaign manager for the Zanu PF candidate in the constituency Gorden Chanda.
“Village head Time acts as Chanda’s campaign manager,” said a villager who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Recently, while addressing his subjects, the village head told them that come election day, everyone should declare that they were illiterate so that he assists them to vote to ensure a Zanu PF victory.
“He threatens violence despite the president clearly stating that the elections should be free and fair.”
Chanda, who is a former aide to war veterans leader and Zanu PF politburo member Victor Matemadanda, is battling it out with Marco Finiasi Machona of TAD, Tachiona Mpofu representing CODE, MDC Alliance’s Smarks Ndhlela and Takavarasha Nharara of NPF.
Time on Thursday said he saw nothing wrong in supporting a ruling party candidate.
“Is it a crime to support a member of our ruling party?” he asked.
Zanu PF Midlands spokesperson Cornelius Mpereri said the party does not condone violence and would respect President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call to have elections conducted in an environment of continued unity and total peace.
“We don’t condone violence and if we find out that one of our members is doing so, we take action,” he said.
“President Mnangagwa, who is the first secretary of our party, insists on the need for peace, unity and shun violence and there is no need any Zanu PF cadre can do the contrary.”
Opposition parties have, on numerous occasions, accused Zanu PF officials of abusing traditional leaders and turning them into the ruling party’s de facto political commissars.
Chiefs’ council president Fortune Charumbira was recently ordered to publicly distance himself from Zanu PF partisan politics after he was taken to the High Court for declaring his allegiance to the ruling party in contravention of the Constitution.
– The Standard