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Church leaders under pressure

Shakeman Mugari

AS the campaign for the upcoming election gets under way, Zanu PF is understood to be urging church leaders in Seke constituency to compel their congregations to attend a political rally sche

duled for Sunday.

Village headmen and chiefs have also been told to bring their subjects to the rally. Acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa and the party’s 2000 parliamentary election losing candidate Phineas Chihota are expected to address the rally.

A rally scheduled for last Sunday flopped after residents snubbed it. The ruling party has now resorted to coercion to boost numbers, critics say.

This comes barely a week after the death of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for the constituency, Ben Tumbare-Mutasa.

On Tuesday party officials and a small group of youth militia dragged chiefs, village headmen and church leaders to a meeting where they were told to bring their followers to the rally.

The rally is expected to mark the beginning of the campaign for next year’s parliamentary election in the Seke constituency.

Chiefs and headmen are required to compile registers of their members which they will submit to party officials on the day of the rally.

The clergy were also given an ultimatum to end all their church services at 12 noon on Sunday to make way for the rally.

After the service the church leaders are required to lead their congregations to Arcturus Stadium where a roll call will be conducted before the rally. Intimidating letters have already been served on pastors.

Church leaders confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that they had received such letters demanding that they bring their members to the rally.

This week some Zanu-PF youths rampaged through Arcturus threatening to beat residents if they don’t attend the rally.

The party has been unable to stage a successful rally in Arcturus this year. Their first attempt two months ago failed to take off owing to poor attendance.

The Independence and Unity Day celebrations organised by the ruling party also failed to attract crowds. Both Murerwa and Chihota could not be reached for comment.

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