Some villagers in Hurungwe West constituency, currently ravaged by political violence allegedly being perpetrated by suspected supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party ahead of a local poll, say they will vote for a candidate of their choice in the forthcoming parliamentary by-elections set for June 10th.
Headman Alick Munava, who was allegedly beaten up by suspected Zanu PF youths at a Nyamhunga School rally in Sengwe communal lands a fortnight ago and left for dead, says the current political violence will not prevent villagers from voting for a candidate of their choice.
Munava says he spent two nights in the bush fearing for his life.
He claims that the ruling party is forcing local people to attend endless meetings everyday in a constituency that is up for grabs following the expulsion of Temba Mliswa from Zanu PF for allegedly backing a faction said to be led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Zanu PF accused Mrs. Mujuru of attempting to topple President Mugabe at the party’s elective congress last December. She has since dismissed these allegations as false and misleading amid reports that she is planning to challenge President Mugabe in the 2018 presidential election.
Munava says villagers, gripped by fear, have not abandoned their fields in order to attend the meetings at a time when they should be harvesting their crops.
Former Hurungwe West Member of Parliament, Severino Chambati of Movement for Democratic Change Renewal Team concurs, noting that the political violence in the constituency is being allegedly spearheaded by Zanu PF supporters.
But Chambati says the violence will not change the minds of the people because this happened in 2008 but he managed to wrestle the seat from Zanu PF.
These views are also echoed by MDC-T Provincial organising secretary, Wilson Makanyaire, who believes that independent candidate, Mliswa, is likely to win the seat as local people don’t like the imposition of candidates.
SPIRIT OF TOGETHERNESS
Makanyaire says Hurungwe West is an area where ZIPRA forces, the armed wing of the former liberation party, Zapu, operated in the 1970s and the spirit of togetherness shown during that time is now among the people like when they were fighting against the colonial Ian Smith regime.
Makanyaire, who lost to Mliswa in the last harmonized parliamentary election, says villagers are expected to vote for development and shun candidates perpetrating violence.
Mliswa is optimistic that despite the violence and intimidation of the local people he will win as he has a lot that he has done for the people of Hurungwe West.
But Zanu PF youth, Patrick Goredema, who is helping in campaigning for the party’s candidate, Keith Guzah, says his candidate will win the elections because he is backed by the former liberation party that brought independence and development in rural areas.
Goredema says it is untrue that Zanu PF members are engaged in violent activities in the region.
Human rights activists say the Human Rights Commission should investigate political disturbances in Hurungwe West where Mliswa’s supporters are being allegedly targeted by ruling party members.
The chairman of the commission, Elasto Mugwadi, says they have visited the area and are preparing a report that will be made public soon.