A Zimbabwean human rights watchdog organization warned Monday that political violence is on the rise again in the country, especially in traditional ZANU-PF strongholds such as Masvingo and Mashonaland Central.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director Abel Chikomo said militants of the former ruling party have launched violent campaigns in the provinces in preparation for possible national elections next year.
Reports said Zimbabwe War Veterans Chairman Jabulani Sibanda has launched a campaign code-named ‘”Budiranai Pachena,” Shona for “Let’s tell each other the truth.” His critics say this is a cover for intimidation of members of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, in government since the 2008 elections.
Sibanda is said to be threatening people with “violent consequences” if they support MDC founder and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, so much that community leaders are calling for Mr Tsvangirai’s intervention.
Reports said Sibanda and other war veterans have been trying to coerce villagers in Zaka district into supporting ZANU-PF, saying they can live in peace under ZANU-PF or support MDC and face danger.
Sources in the Zaka West constituency of Masvingo province said Sibanda forced school headmasters in the area to attend a meeting at which he sought to mobilize them to join his campaign.
Earlier, said sources, local villagers refused to attend his meetings, telling Sibanda to first banish MDC from his own village in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, before creating havoc in Masvingo, on the other side of the country.
Chikomo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Sibanda’s behavior is particularly worrisome as it could signal or spark a return to the broader-based and deadlier political violence seen in 2008.