MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai says although intimidation and open political violence have declined, the fear factor is still lingering in the three Zanu PF strongholds of Mashonaland provinces.
Report by Elias Mambo
The Mashonaland provinces have denied Tsvangirai victory in previous elections by overwhelmingly voting for Zanu PF. In an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe independent on the sidelines of his campaign trail in Zanu PF’s stronghold of Mashonaland Central, Tsvangirai said his supporters are still being intimidated and reminded of the horrors of the 2008 disputed elections that shook President Robert Mugabe’s grip on power.
“Zanu PF is employing discreet methods of intimidation in an attempt to frustrate our supporters,” said Tsvangirai.
“I have been around this province since morning but what I have seen are tactics to stop our supporters from attending our rallies so as to deny us victory in the forthcoming elections. But I am warning Zanu PF supporters that things have changed and since everyone wants change, we are going to win,” he said.
Tsvangirai had to change his “walk past programme” at Guruve centre after his supporters were arrested.
“The president (Tsvangiriai) had to go and rescue about 40 supporters who had been arrested at Guruve centre for wearing party regalia and singing while waiting for his team to arrive,” said Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka.
At Mvurwi business centre, Tsvangirai could not address a scheduled rally at the stadium after Zanu PF supporters hastily organised ball games inside the venue to thwart the gathering. The rally was eventually held at an open space near Mvurwi vegetable market, some 300 metres away from the stadium with only seven police officers separating the rival party supporters. The same intimidation tactics were employed in Glendale where Zanu PF supporters encircled the stadium in which Tsvangirai was addressing supporters chanting party slogans.
Even though MDC-T had secured police clearance to hold the rally, Zanu PF supporters deliberately occupied the venue five hours before Tsvangirai was scheduled to address his supporters at midday, effectively blocking MDC-T supporters from assembling.
MDC-T supporters, who started trickling into the venue around 8am, were shocked to find two netball and three soccer teams of Zanu PF youths and women donning party regalia preparing to play matches inside.
“This is shocking because we have a police clearance to use the venue but Zanu PF decided to have ball games here forcing us to hold our rally at this open space,” said MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa.
Tsvangirai has been telling his supporters at every rally in Mashonaland Central that voting for Zanu PF and Mugabe is setting the country backward.
“If you want progress then vote for MDC but if you want the economy to go back where it was in 2008 then vote for Zanu PF and Mugabe,” he said.
“What will Zanu PF do which they have failed to do in the past 33 years?”