Close to 60 MDC-T supporters fled their homes on March 30 after a Pentecostal Church building was burnt by alleged Zanu PF youths.
The gulf between Zanu PF and MDC supporters in the area is widening despite the formation of the inclusive government last year. It is so wide that the protagonists attend different churches depending on which political party one belongs to. The church that was razed is attended mainly by MDC-T members.
Villagers affected in the resurgence of violence in the area were also victims of the bloody June 2008 presidential election run-off.
In 2008, the villagers fled Muzarabani South for Harare where they camped outside the South African Embassy and sought assistance from the German Embassy. They were later housed at Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre.
Muzarabani South became a no-go area for the MDC and as a result Zanu PF’s Edward Raradza was elected a member of the House of Assembly unopposed.
The resurgence of violence in the area has brought sad memories and fear to MDC supporters.
With most Zimbabweans generally agreeing that political violence had gone down tremendously as a result of the formation of the inclusive government, MDC-T supporters in Charunda Village Ward 17 of Chief Kasekete, Muzarabani South, still live in fear.
When the Zimbabwe Independent visited the area on Tuesday, the villagers were suspicious of the news crew and only relaxed when they saw MDC-T Muzarabani South chairperson Freddie Matonhodze in their company.
One of the villagers narrated how Zanu PF members were instilling fear in them.
“They (Zanu PF members) tell us that this GNU between Mugabe and Tsvangirai is in Harare,” said Virginia Charunda. “It’s a crime to belong to the MDC here. Just before Easter we had to flee our homes and stayed at St Albert’s business centre, at an open place with no food. This was after we were warned of more violence against us by a concerned Zanu PF member.”
She said Zanu PF in the area launched what it refers to as Operation hatisvike tese — a terror campaign targeted at MDC supporters in the area.
“We were told that kuseri kwe World Cup kune zvitsvuku, come July muchaona henyu, chichatsva (It is going to be bloody after the World Cup in July. We are coming after you),” Charunda — a mother to a two-year-old son — said. “They tell us that if we survive in July we will be lucky.”
These, according to the villagers, are some of the threats they have to endure daily from Zanu PF.
The World Cup ends in July and there is a general fear that any disturbances in Zimbabwe before the games kick off might have an impact on South Africa hosting it.
Charunda is continuously intimidated by Zanu PF supporters and she does not know where she will end up if the violence escalates.
She said: “Everywhere I go, it might be to the fields or even when I am bathing, I make sure I move around with a few dollars. I have to be ready to flee with my child.”
Samson Chenzira, MDC-T Ward 17 chairperson, said the church was burnt soon after senior party officials Sekai Holland and Shepherd Mushonga held a meeting with members at Muzarabani Growth Point to discuss party issues and talking points they intended to raise with the Constitution Parliamentary Committee (Copac).
“The meeting fuelled the tensions,” Chenzira said. “It did not go down well with the Zanu PF leadership. “They started having their own meetings where Chimurenga songs were sung. They said the MDC should not hold meetings in the area. Youths patrols commenced to monitor the situation.”
Wirimai Gono — who lost in the council elections in March 2008 — said a Zanu PF youth leader (name supplied) burnt the church during the night of March 27 after the party had held a meeting earlier in the day at Hoya Business Centre.
“He (the youth leader) thought that people were asleep when he lit the church. It’s the light that glowed that drove us to go and see what was taking place, but he quickly ran away and we pursued him,” Gono narrated. “We later caught up with him at an MDC member’s homestead where he also wanted to burn a hut. He told us that he was acting on instructions from his Zanu PF leaders.”
Gono claimed that they took the youth leader to Hoya Police Station where they were reportedly told it was a complicated case and the culprit was released.
Gono said Zanu PF was out to intimidate them to abandon the MDC.
“They want to instil fear so that no one talks when Copac comes. They want us to surrender to their other operation, Hapana anotaura (No one will participate),” added Gono.
The villagers, he said, only returned to their homes when they were assured by the police that nothing would happen to them.
Police Spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the case and promised to find out from Bindura police.