Fears of violence are growing as the 2018 elections approach. The fears are especially acute in rural areas such as Gutu West constituency, where a local NGO reports that Zanu PF intimidation has triggered panic in the entire community.
Villagers says a former chief, George Chivhande Serima, now a Zanu PF ward chairman, has warned them of severe punishment if they support opposition parties. People are being ordered to submit their names and national registration details to village heads.
MDC MP Eddie Cross says: ‘the entire rural population is living under a regime of terror built up over many years by the Zanu PF party. The level of intimidation and control is extraordinary and includes beatings, targeted abductions, rape, threats, the use of traditional leaders and threats of expulsion from their homes. It includes close supervision of voting and collective punishment for communities or villages who are known to support, in any way, the opposition.’
The MDC said teams had been deployed from the Registrar General’s office to conduct voter registration ahead of the legal voter registration process by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
MDC presidential spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said: ‘While debate rages over the contentious Biometric Voter Registration exercise and the ZEC’s decision to prejudice the MDC by earmarking fewer registration centres in the urban areas, perceived to be opposition strongholds, it has emerged that Zanu PF has already clandestinely begun its own parallel voter registration exercise.’
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association expressed grave concern over the rise in political conflict in the country and said ‘political developments should be taken seriously by the international community to avert a slide into more violence’.
The new British Minister for Africa Rory Stewart has expressed ‘deep distaste at the horrifying record of the Mugabe regime’. He was replying to a question in Parliament about British policy in Zimbabwe asked by the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe Kate Hoey:
‘Mugabe spent $53 million on private travel overseas last year. At the same time, the United Kingdom is paying proportionately more in aid to that country than to any other country in Africa.
“Does the Minister think that, with the elections coming next year and Mugabe refusing to implement the 2013 constitution, now is the time to put some of that money into helping voter education in those rural areas controlled by ZANU-PF, or we will not have free and fair elections?’
Mr Stewart said he agreed with her that focusing on free and fair elections was one of the most important things Britain could do for Zimbabwe.
The reports of voter intimidation justify the Vigil’s efforts, in conjunction with other human rights groups, to see civilian peacekeepers set up in rural areas to educate people in their constitutional rights and counter fear.
- Vigil co-ordinator Fungayi Mabhunu was interviewed by Voice of America about the attempts in Zimbabwe to form an opposition coalition. He said this was irrelevant as the election outcome was already being rigged. He said opposition politicians were primarily interested in their jobs and the possibility of getting posts in a new government of national unity. Fungayi said the Vigil believed the answer lay in a transitional authority overseen by the UN. You can hear Fungayi on Voice of America’s live talk programme, check: https://www.voazimbabwe.com/a/3941507.html. His interview starts about 40 minutes into the programme.
- People were being encouraged to attend ROHR Slough branch’s fundraising dinner on Saturday 29th July. It will be held at Zaza’s restaurant in Whitechapel Road in London and participants will enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet. Full details can be seen in our ‘Events and Notices’.
- Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Daizy Fabian, Jonathan Kariwo, Fungayi Mabhunu, Gloria Mabika, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Patricia Masamba, Cephas Maswoswa, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Sipho Ndlovu, Cecilliah Phiri, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Maxmus Savanhu, Michael Sirewu, Farai Tanyanyiwa and Nkosinkona Tshabangu. Thanks to Roseline, Esther and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table, to Abigail and Nancy Makurira for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Jonathan, Maxmus, Farai, Cephas and Nkosinkona for putting up the banners.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.
FOR THE RECORD: 43 signed the register.