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Zimbabwe Traditional Leader Threatens Rural Voters Ahead Of Ballot

Zimbabwe Chief’s Council President Fortune Charumbira stunned Masvingo villagers who gathered last weekend to observe World Food Day by issuing a threat to evict them from their homes if they did not vote for the ruling party in rural elections.

Zimbabweans are to vote Saturday on the composition of more than 1,000 rural district councils - local government and administrative bodies.

Charumbira further warned his audience that those evicted would have no place else to go because other chiefs nationwide had adopted the same position. He spoke at an event organized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Charumbira instructed Masvingo headmen - local leaders subordinate to chiefs - to take good note of his instructions. He said he had already drawn up a list of people marked for eviction for supporting the United People's Party, whose founder, Daniel Shumba, comes from Masvingo, or the Movement for Democratic Change.

Charumbira could not be reached to confirm or comment on his statement.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai said Charumbira, the nation's top traditional leader and a member of parliament ex officio, had abused his position of authority.

Chamisa said his MDC faction intends to take up the issue with parliament and the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Chief Charumbira‘s threats give ruling party militants a green light to attack opposition members in the run up to the rural council elections to be held across the country on Saturday.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...