MASHONALAND EAST —
As President Robert Mugabe, his supporters and regional leaders celebrated his victory and inauguration as head of state at the National Sports Stadium, there was a sombre mood in Mutoko South where Zanu PF supporters allegedly burnt down huts of suspected Movement for Democratic Change activists.
Following Mr. Mugabe’s victory in the July 31 elections, MDC-T supporters in Mutoko South constituency’s Nyamuzizi resettlement area have been harassed, threatened with eviction and in some instances had their houses burnt down.
One such resident is Chamunorwa Mundete, whose hut was torched last week.
Mundete of Village Five in Ward 29 also had his homestead burnt in 2008. He suspects his hut was burnt by war veterans in the area, the same people he says were behind the 2008 arson.
Mundete said his hurt was burnt following threats by local Zanu PF chairman Patrick Matewo.
His mother, Felitus Mundete, who witnessed the incident, told VOA Studio 7 that Mundete had been warned by local Zanu PF activists that she will be punished unless her son Chamunorwa rejoined Zanu PF.
Several other villagers in the area including MDC-T loosing candidate for Mtoko South, Mapango Mapengo, have fled their homes because of the alleged intimidation.
Another MDC-T activist, Gilbert Chikoto, of Ward 26, also in Mutoko South, said people from his party have nothing to celebrate about Mr. Mugabe’s victory and inauguration given the violence against them.
Chikoto said Mr. Tsvangirai should have been sworn in Thursday, adding President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party stole the July harmonised elections.
Mapengo said most cases of political violence in the area have been reported to the police. When Studio 7 arrived at Mundete’s homestead, Mtoko police had just left after recording statements from him and his parents.
VOA Studio 7 was unable to get a comment from Matewo, the Zanu PF leader in the area, as he was not answering his mobile phone. Mutoko police could also not be reached for comment.
At the same time, many Zimbabweans in South Africa who fled political violence and economic meltdown in the past decade say President Mugabe’s inauguration has shuttered their dream of permanently returning to their homeland.
Mbuso Dlodlo said Mr. Mugabe’s inauguration and the start of a fresh five-year mandate for Zanu PF means that most of them won’t be returning home anytime soon.
Lucky Moyo, 34, said he was never a victim of political violence but economic hardships pushed him out of the country.
He was hoping the elections will see the creation of a new government that will have a different approach to economic issues affecting the country. Though the economy is now far much better than what it was in 2009 when he left Zimbabwe, Moyo said he fears that Zanu PF’s indigenisation programme will completely destroy the economy.
But not all diasporans are disappointed by another five years under President Mugabe’s rule. Manqoba Sibanda said he believes the elections were free and fair and President Mugabe is the people’s choice.
The past decade in Zimbabwe has been marred by political persecution and intimidation. Many Zimbabweans who fled the country to seek political asylum in South Africa during this period alleged that they were being targeted by Zanu PF supporters and state security agents for opposing Mr. Mugabe’s rule.
Many of them say they had hoped that the coming elections will bring a change of government and a conducive political environment that could enable them to return home.
They do not believe in Zanu PF’s capabilities to turn around the country’s fortunes so for the time being, they are staying put, hoping the South African authorities will extend their expiring four-year permits.