SOLDIERS, war veterans and Zanu PF youths have reportedly threatened to frog-march the electorate to polling stations to vote for President Robert Mugabe in the presidential run-off election which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from.
Army Major-General Engelbert Rugeje on Wednesday reportedly told a rally at Mucheke Stadium, Masvingo, that the soldiers would ensure that everyone votes for the ageing Mugabe.
Sources who attended the rally said Rugeje said action would be taken against those who refused to go to the polls.
Soldiers, war veterans and Zanu PF militia have been accused by the MDC of perpetrating violence throughout the country since the March 29 harmonised elections.
This week, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, said Mugabeâ€™s embattled government was planning to force people to cast their vote in todayâ€™s ill-fated poll.
Tsvangirai withdrew from Fridayâ€™s election saying a free and fair vote was impossible because of political violence that he said had killed at least 86 members of his party and displaced 200 000 others.
McGee said the US mission in Harare had received information that Mugabeâ€™s government planned to force voters out to the polls in its bid to portray the one-man race as a credible election.
“Weâ€™ve received reports that Zanu PF will force people to vote on Friday and also take action against those who refuse to vote,” McGee said. “So, they are saying â€˜we want an election at all costs. We want to validate Mugabeâ€™s victory hereâ€™.”
MDC spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, yesterday claimed that Zanu PF was plotting to use “fake” opposition polling agents to legitimise the election.
He said: “Zanu PF is plotting to plant fake MDC polling agents in polling stations nationwide to give the impression that the MDC is participating in this sham in a desperate bid to secure some semblance of legitimacy in the so-called run-off poll.”
Chamisa said the party has received information that Zanu PF has started paying its people allowances of between $50 billion and $100 billion to masquerade as MDC polling agents who will then be used to sign the V11 forms to give an impression that the party participated in tomorrowâ€™s (todayâ€™s) election. Chamisa said Zanu PF wanted to frog-march everyone to go and vote for Mugabe. “The regimeâ€™s antics include an operation code-named “Chigunwe chitsvuku” in which armed militia will randomly inspect peopleâ€™s fingers to check whether they have voted,” he claimed. “Our message to the people is that if anyone is frog-marched to a polling station, they must spoil their ballot. The people cannot be abused by the same regime they rejected on 29 March.”
Meanwhile, the police yesterday claimed that the MDC intended to disrupt the run-off and declared that “these counterproductive criminal activities will be met head on and with full force of the law”.
Police commander in charge of elections, Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, told a media conference yesterday that they had arrested five MDC activists in Gweru on Wednesday who confessed that the party intended to disrupt the poll.
“Some people want to participate in this run-off in a negative way as revealed through the confessions made by five people who were arrested in Gweru yesterday (Wednesday),” Mazango alleged. “The five arrested confessed that they had been addressed by an MDC-T elect MP that their leadership had realised that the party did not have support and that they should be mobilised to disturb the elections and burn tents used at polling stations.”
He claimed that the youths were encouraged to flee to Botswana after committing the criminal acts. â€” Staff Writers.