ZAPU is planning to lodge a formal complaint of intimidation with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) after some villagers in Ward 16 Bulilima West were allegedly threatened with eviction from their farms by suspected Zanu PF members.
This intimidation comes ahead of the by-elections to be held in the district on September 3, 2022.
ZAPU has fielded two candidates in Ward 14 and Ward 16, Linos Moyo and Hitman Ncube, respectively.
This latest incident comes after the Ward 1 aspiring candidate for Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in Tjankwa, Bulilima West, Ephraim Moyo, also claimed he was intimidated by Zanu PF members.
In an interview with CITE, ZAPU elections coordinator for both Ward 14 and 16, Artwell Ndlovu, narrated that villagers in Ward 16 were approached by a group of people who threatened to remove them from their resettled areas.
“I am on the campaign trail and just heard this message from villagers who sounded the alarm as soon as it happened. The situation is bad because a group of people, claiming to be from Plumtree told the villagers in Village 17 in Ward 16 that if they continued attending ZAPU meetings they would be chased from where they stay,” he said.
“Some of the members in the group were identified by villagers.”
Ndlovu said this group of intimidators told villagers that if they continued supporting a different party other than Zanu PF, they would lose their land.
“The villagers stay in resettlement areas and are now afraid that they would be chased away. This group knew people had attended meetings because ZAPU is on its campaign trail and has been talking to many villagers,” said the party’s election coordinator.
“Moreso, the group also threatened people in Village 29 and locals were crying that they would be targeted for harassment as they were expressing themselves. This is a worrying situation because this group knows how local systems function.”
Ndlovu noted that when the group of intimidators arrived, they rang a bell, which is normally done by the village head.
“The village head, Francina Ndlovu, is the one who rings the bell for meetings and people gather afterwards. But she was not there when the bell was rung. We are yet to speak to her, inform the police and let ZEC know about this intimidation,” he said.
“It’s worrying that people have to endure such harassment all the time elections are announced. We also heard there was some harassment going on at Ward 14 and this was the same report we received from locals in Malopa village who were cautioned not to go to ZAPU meetings.”
ZAPU Matabeleland South Provincial Chairperson, Ndodana Moyo, said they were disappointed that these scare tactics were done by war veterans.
“The ruling Zanu party is using war veterans to scare and threaten to evacuate elderly people for their land. This incident occurred within the past 24 hours yet before our campaign had been going well. But the environment has suddenly changed as we get closer to election day,” he said.
“Zanu has resorted to its usual scare tactics, threatening to beat and abduct people, telling them they would be moved from where they are resettled. This is causing people to take a back seat.”
Moyo lamented that some of these war veterans who were allegedly threatening people were former ZPRA fighters who were victimised by the state, yet continued to defend the same government.
“These are the same people who were brutalized by the State before our founding father, the late Joshua Nkomo signed the Unity Accord in 1987. Now they are the same individuals defending the State, the same one that has caused the country’s economic decline and chased away their children to other countries where they face humiliation,” claimed the provincial chairperson.
Moyo observed that the September 3 by-elections would not be free and fair as the environment was no longer conducive.
“What determines elections to be free and fair is the campaign environment before, during and after. But it’s no longer free and fair because villagers are now afraid since their terrorisers promised to remove them from where they are resettled,” he said.