GWERU, WASHINGTON DC —
Eleven villagers from Chief Masala’s Dayataya Ward in the Zvishavane-Ngezi constituency, Midlands province, have fled their homes and sought refuge in the asbestos-mining town after allegedly being assaulted by suspected Zanu PF supporters.
Lillian Timveos, the Midlands South provincial chairperson for the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told VOA Studio 7 the villagers, who include a pregnant woman, fled their homes Sunday night following the alleged assault and harassment.
“It’s true that there are some MDC-T supporters from about four homesteads in Ndindani village in Dayataya Ward who fled their homes after they had been assaulted by Zanu PF supporters. This happened on Sunday night,” said Mrs. Timveos.
She said the villagers were being punished for leaving a meeting called by Chief Masala early Sunday when they realized that it was a political meeting aimed at drumming up support for Zanu PF.
“The villagers say Chief Masala called a public meeting insisting that all villagers should attend. When villagers from across the political divide arrived at the meeting, they realized later that it was a Zanu PF meeting which had been called under the guise of a public meeting. So, some MDC-T supporters decided to leave as they felt that it was improper for the chief to call for a political meeting”
The incident was reported to Zvishavane police who promised to investigate.
Mrs. Timveos said she is concerned that three MDC-T youths, who were also assaulted, are in police custody.
Provincial police spokesman Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko was not available for comment. But an officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to speak to the press, confirmed the incident.
Elsewhere, a visit by Studio 7 to a number of polling stations in Chirumhanzu and Shurugwi showed that all is in place in time for Wednesday’s elections.
Provincial elections officer Dorcas Mpofu said her office is ready for the polls.
Meanwhile, reports from some parts of the country suggested there was relative peace on the eve of Wednesday’s polls.
But cases of intimidation were said to be on the increase as some chiefs and village heads in Muzarabani and Rushinga in Mashonaland Central were said to be intimidating villagers.
Chiefs Dandawa and Matawu together with headmen Kamutsamombe and Katemanyoka in Hurungwe Mashonaland West, were also accused of ordering people to gather at their homesteads Wednesday morning so they can go to polling stations in groups.
Reporter Jonga Kandemiiri spoke with an MDC T member, Never Nyamasvisva from Mashonaland Central who said these local leaders were also ordering known MDC supporters to claim that they were illiterate and needed assistance to cast their ballots.
Sources in Mashonaland East, Manicaland and some parts of Masvingo also alleged the same was being planned by village heads in their areas.