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‘Zanu PF instigating violence’

THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has accused Zanu PF of instigating political violence in rural areas, intimidating the electorate and abusing state resources ahead of next Saturday’s harmonised elections.

In a report compiled by Zesn election observers, the network also alleged that the ruling party was manipulating traditional chiefs to its political advantage.
The organisation’s observers have been monitoring election-related activities in the country since last year.  
“It has become evidently clear that some parts of the country remain no go areas for mostly opposition political parties although exceptions have bee noted in Nyanga where Chief Mezani is reported to have allowed the MDC-Tsvangirai to hold a rally in his village,” said the Zesn report.
The observers reported that the Central Intelligence Organisation has since started to victimise Mezani through continuous harassment and threats to withdraw his benefits if he continues to give equal access to his area to all contesting political parties.
Zesn said political violence cases emanating from attempts to hold political campaigns have been reported in Mutasa North where Zanu PF youths are understood to be camped at Katiyo Tea Estate.
The youths on February 17 reportedly attacked women on their way to the MDC-Tsvangirai rally.
“Four MDC youths sustained serious head injuries when they retaliated and were attended to at Hauna Hospital after a report had been made at Ruda Police Station,” read the report.
In Mazowe West, the MDC-Tsvangirai was denied access to a community hall to hold its rally by the local authority.
The authority reportedly said it was afraid of victimisation from Zanu PF if it allows the opposition access to the hall.
“Mberengwa North has been a challenge for MDC-Tsvangirai to begin its campaign activities owing to the alleged intolerant behaviour of war veterans in the area,” said the report.
The Zesn observers noted that all the contesting parties and independent candidates have to a large extent managed to conduct their rallies in urban areas. 
“In urban areas, MDC-Tsvangirai, MDC-Mutambara, Simba Makoni, independent candidates and Zanu PF have been able to conduct rallies. It is interesting to note that areas such as Bindura, once a “no go” area for opposition political parties, has been open to MDC-Tsvangirai although people have been threatened with violence if they attended the MDC rallies,” said the Zesn.
The network castigated the use of public resources by Zanu PF to drum up support ahead of the elections.
“The use of public resources in elections is the prerogative of the incumbent. The use of public resources benefits the party that has access to these resources and disadvantages those without access. It has been observed that government vehicles, offices and other ancillary services have been used for political purposes,” said the report.
“It was noted that in Manicaland province government vehicles were used for campaign purposes. This was observed in Chimanimani West where vehicle number GWRD 0228 was being used for campaign purposes through the ferrying of party supporters around the constituency.”
In Mashonaland Central, the Zesn observers said, the MDC-Tsvangirai was denied the use of school premises for their meetings while Zanu PF had unrestricted access to the same.
The network said the role of traditional leaders in the politics of Zimbabwe continued to be controversial.
“In Chipinge South, Headman Chindukumire Tsvangirai summoned MDC-Tsvangirai chairman, one Mtimukulu, for holding a meeting on February 20. He was threatened with eviction from the village if he continued with MDC activities.”

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