ZANU PF has launched a terror campaign ahead of the Zengeza by-election. The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that four torture bases have been set up.
T face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Zengeza constituency by-elections are due on March 27 and 28. The seat fell vacant after Tafadzwa Musekiwa went into exile in the United Kingdom and later resigned. Musekiwa went into exile in 2002 claiming that the ruling Zanu PF party was after his life.
Four candidates are vying for the seat: long-time Zanu PF cadre Christopher Chigumba, James Makore (MDC), Tendai Chakanyuka (Nagg) and Gideon Chinogureyi of Zanu Ndonga.
Speaking to the Independent yesterday, Makore said Zanu PF had intensified its dirty campaign by attacking and torturing his supporters.
“Zanu PF has already established four bases in the constituency,” Makore said. “The bases are at Zengeza 4 creche, Zengeza 4 shops (popularly known as Pagomba), in Unit H and Unit D. Zanu PF youths and supporters camped at these bases descend on suspected opposition supporters during the night, beat them up and destroy their property.”
Makore said he had reported some of the cases to the police who had promised to investigate.
“Some of the incidents are very nasty. Some victims have sustained serious injuries such as broken arms. Most of these cases have been reported to the police,” he said.
Makore said there were rumours that the ruling party was setting up more bases in the constituency to cow the opposition before the poll.MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said on Wednesday more that 100
Zanu PF militias stoned three houses belonging to members of the opposition in Zengeza, including that of Makore.
“Zanu PF mobs moving in trucks attacked the three houses at around 1430hrs on Wednesday, destroying property valued at millions of dollars and beating up everybody they met near Makore’s house,” Nyathi said.
“They shattered window-panes and asbestos sheets of Makore’s house before proceeding to attack two houses belonging his neighbours.”
Nyathi said the Zanu PF youths abducted an MDC youth, Enock Mukudu, who was forced to surrender $30 000 to secure his release but not before he was stabbed on his left arm as well as sustaining a deep cut above his right eye.
Over the weekend Zanu PF militias invaded the Chitungwiza tennis court where the MDC was preparing to hold a rally. The rally, at which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to launch his party’s campaign for the Zengeza constitu-ency, was called off for security reasons.
Nyathi said ruling party militia attacked MDC party members who had been preparing the venue, seriously damaging two vehicles. Six people were reportedly injured in the attack with equipment worth millions of dollars looted. The MDC said the militia then moved around the area in vehicles attacking anyone seen travelling towards the venue of the rally.
The Electoral Supervisory Commission has however tried to break the cycle of violence by bringing the contesting parties to a round table and agreeing on conflict management measures.
“After noting complaints that have been raised about the existence of bases and safe houses, party representatives agreed that each party would have one command centre that would be known to all and accessible by the ESC and the police,” ESC said.
“In an effort to stem the use of force and violence during night campaigns, parties agreed that there would be no campaigning at night. Campaigning will take place between 0600hrs and 1700hrs.”
With only a week before the polls, the Zengeza seat is already showing signs of becoming the most furiously contested after 2002 presidential election. Zanu PF desperately wants to win the seat to prove that the opposition is fast losing support. The MDC on the other hand cannot afford to lose if it wants to maintain its credibility and grip on the urban electorate.
In the 2000 parliamentary election Zanu PF was relegated to a rural party after the MDC won almost all urban constituencies.